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 www.pre-kpages.com

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.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Shoe Challenge

I've been facebooking a shoe challenge I gave myself 12 days ago and today someone suggested I blog this activity of mine.  Reminded me I had not been here in a few days, so thought I'd stop by and say hello!

My traffic has quieted down quite a bit this past week, I see, and I am not sure if it is lack of interest in what I am blogging about, overall busy-ness of teachers during the school year, or my lesson ideas are that boring that no one wants to come read them!!

So I have two questions for those of you stopping by:

1) shall I continue my teaching blog even though I am not actively teaching this year, to share with other teachers my activities and ideas?


2) shall I blog about my shoe challenge instead?


So my challenge is this: I decided one day that I needed to sweep the floor of our coat closet.  This closet also holds the majority of our shoes.  Even though we try not to, "stuff" finds it's way inside (grass, mulch etc) so the floor was kindof messy.  Plus it's tile, so it gets dusty too. I took all the shoes out, cleaned, then as I was putting them back, started thinking about how many of my shoes I had not worn in AGES.  Like a few years for some of them.  I have a shoe shelf that has 15 slots; I had them all filled, with many holding two pairs of flip flops, plus shoes all over the floor in front of it.  I wish I had taken a before picture.

I asked my Facebook friends how long they keep shoes when they have not worn them, and does style REALLY matter that much?  Based on our discussions I decided that starting that day, I would wear a different pair of shoes every day until I had worn each pair once. This is not easy, as I started it after Labor Day, so the white shoes were technically unwearable.  There are days I don't leave the house too, so what do I do on those days?  I put myself out for the challenge and today is day 12.  The entire challenge will take a little over a month.  Each day I post a picture of the shoes I wore, and some commentary about them. 

Any interest out there??  I need comments please, either way.  I see the traffic I get but hardly anyone comments; I was hoping to get some discussions going but I feel like I am just talking to myself most of the time. :(  Blogging takes a lot of my time, and if the interest is not there then my time can be spent doing other things. 

So what do you all think?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sorting aka K.MD.3

So we are up to the last part of the Measurement and Data domain:  K.MD.3.

Classify objects and count the number of objects in each category.

Explanation: classify objects into given categories; count the number of objects in each category and sort the categories by count.  Keep it to 10 or less.

Seems pretty simple, right?

My young students loved to sort objects; my older students seemed to think it was boring.  Glad this one is only one standard.  The bear families we just used for the Three Bears story come in handy here for sorting; you can use color, size, or a combination of both. 

But isn't it more fun to sort real things?  Give the students a challenge by giving them less obvious objects to sort.  Need your collage drawer organized? Perfect opportunity to use as a learning experience for this standard.  What about bringing in a literacy connection? Are your book baskets getting a little disorganized? This age can easily separate fiction from non-fiction just by looking at the pictures.

Grab a bag of buttons from the craft store. Let them come up with ways to sort them.

 3 Little Firefighters from Amazon

Go outside on a rock hunt; bring them back and let the students explore then sort.  Same thing with leaves, if you live somewhere that the seasons change like I do. 

Liz Sorts It Out from Amazon

This relatively boring standard can turn into a really fun adventure.  Get creative!!!  Of course, once you have your items classified into groups, you can move on to the second part and have them count each group, and place them in quantity order. 


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Literature Connections: Fairy Tales part 3

Another great fairy tale to use with different sizes is Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  I originally was not planning on blogging about this story, as everyone knows this one and figured it would be pretty obvious.

You can even buy a set of "Bear Family" plastic bears.  There are many places out there to get story pieces for this, tons of versions of the story, but then I figured why not?  New teachers may not think this so obvious as those who have been around for a long time.  SO here goes!

Goldilocks is probably the perfect story to practice matching by size. 

Size & Color Teddy CountersBear Family Counters This is an example of just one of the sets out there.

Learning Resources Three Bear Family Sorting Activity (LER0757)

The set I owned came with all sorts of activities and pattern cards and work mats...games, bowls for sorting...Learning Resource Bears

Look at all the great stuff it comes with for not that much more money!  I need to get myself into a creative mood and try to make some of these things for TpT. I am still learning what is copyright infringement and what is not.  :)

Anyway, this is the perfect story to give the kids practice sequencing 3 items by size.
So after choosing your favorite version of The Three Bears (I think there are a million of them!!) I like to use...dun dun dun...

Yep, you guessed it.  The flannelboard is out again.  I have a few sets of these; came from multiple places round the net and curriculum guides.  If you have a keen eye you may have noticed a spoon missing; I have no idea what happened to it!!  So I copied these on cardstock, colored them in, and laminated for durability.  On the back of one set is magnet tape; I find that hot gluing felt to the back of the plastic laminating material does not last.  So anyway, we use these patterns to tell and retell, just like in the other stories previously posted.  We sequence all the items from the bear's house, we match the sizes to each other and to the right bears.  It's a great co-operative activity as well as center.  I love purposely matching the wrong bed to the bear - the kids get a real kick out of it.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Literature Connections: Fairy Tales part 2

One of my favorite big & small stories is Jack & the Beanstalk. Can't get much more of an obvious size difference that this one!

To start, I needed a giant, a Jack and a beanstalk!  KidsSoup has a set of characters; this giant is from there.  My beanstalk is simply a laminated piece of construction paper that I drew a squiggle on, then cut after it was laminated.  I have one part as a hook to keep it on my flannel board or white board.  There is magnet tape on the back of this set - my white board on wheels was the perfect size to drape the beanstalk down, but since I am at home I had to use the flannel board to show you.

The Jack came from a curriculum book I photocopied from the library.  If I can find the title I will edit the post.

Using the patterns from KidsSoup, we would tell and retell the story, and talk about the difference in sizes of big and small things.  This is a repetition of the other big and small lessons, just with a different story.

The science connection made it an essential fairy tale to use.  We planted some seeds (after comparing their sizes) and tracked their growth.  I just brought in some leftover seeds from home; we planted a couple of each, This does take some time, I admit, to allow for growth but it's fun and by the time the plants are tall enough to measure with a ruler, we've moved onto standard measurement, so I look at this lesson as prep for that one!

I know that standard measurement is NOT part of the Kindergarten Common Core Standards; I see it is not really brought in until 2nd grade now. But this is something I can't ignore when the kids are totally capable of reading a ruler. 

Hands on activity for this fairy tale: walk outside to compare GIANT to BIG to SMALL.  We talked about the difference between something that can be called giant versus something we would call big.  It is so important for young students to understand the language of math.  Great opportunity to introduce TINY as well.

Now, these are all lessons I did with my three and four year olds, minus the measuring the plants with a ruler.  They would use non-standard items like cubes.  The CCS are so easy for measurement that this would be doable with your Kindergarten classes and be aligned perfectly.

Art connection: my youngest students got their own Jack and beanstalk, and practiced cutting on the lines.  They "grew" their beanstalk by picking up the center piece (and bounced it up and down a few times) then I would tape it hanging to the wall, cabinet or table (to spread them out) and they got to move their Jack up and down the beanstalk.  Our positional vocabulary of UP, DOWN, TOP, and BOTTOM was reinforced during this time. 

Next time, yet another fairy tale!!


Monday, September 17, 2012

Literature Connections: Fairy Tales

Here are some more literature connections to the Kindergarten Common Core Standard for Measurement.  We are still working with K.MD.1 and K.MD.2.

I will be honest with you, I often have a hard time finding a "good" version of fairy tales.  One that will be appropriate to read to a two-year old as well a a Kindergartener.  But I am sure most of you do not have to deal with teaching that varied of an age group, so it's not a problem for most.  I find that fairy tales can be inappropriate in their language for today's generation.   So I most often ad lib while reading, giving my own interpretation of the story, which is what a fairy tale is anyway, right?

For each fairy tale I retell, I have a set of flannelboard or magnetic story pieces to go along with each.  This way I can retell the story on the board, and when I have a version with good illustrations, I can show it after telling that portion.  Plus, it prevents the little smart-alecs who can read from yelling out "that's not what the story says Ms. Kathy!" LOL

Fairy Tale: The Three Billy Goats Gruff

For this fairy tale, the CCS connection is with the different sized goats.  I use this tale to discuss ordinal numbers - which size goat went first, second and third? We reinforce our positional vocabulary with over and under the bridge.

My public library has TONS of versions of the story, as I am sure does yours.  This way you can pick the version you like the best.

Early Childhood Units for Favorite TalesThe resource I use is: Early Childhood Units for Favorite Tales

This links you to the book on Amazon; I got it as part of a set of 3 or 4 similar books at some point in the past.  Maybe at a book fair? Can't remember.

I claim no ownership of the following images nor do I profit from the posting of them here.

Using patterns from this book I made a slightly larger set of the characters from the story for my white board.  By attaching a small piece of magnet tape, I am ready to go.

Here are my story pieces.

Not the best picture but you get the idea.  After we have told and retold the story, the kids have had a chance to participate in the retelling, and we have practiced using our math vocabulary words, the students get their own set of characters.  Depending on their age, they either get a "coloring" sheet, where they practice following directions like "color the first goat gray."  Getting a bunch of assessments done at once.  I can walk around and jot down a quick note for the kids who struggled with the request.  The older kids get the chance to cut out the pieces and make their own grassy fields for the goats to go from and to.

This is pretty old; it was in my "redo" pile for this school year. :)  All images came from the above shown curriculum book.  I also have one with just a bridge; we can retell the story in other ways with different animals/characters.  This is saved for a workstation.  I forgot something important to mention - the above book also comes with a MINI-BOOK for the students to color and put together.  If you missed my blog post on using "book boxes" you can find it here: Book Boxes

Enjoy!  Kathy

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Measurement: Big & Small

After working on height and length, I then introduced them to the vocabulary words BIG and SMALL.  We discussed in great length how these two words can be used to DESCRIBE sizes in many ways.  Something "big" can either be tall, long, or both.  Something "small" can be short, or short.  Hey - we use the same word in measuring both length & height!  If the kids did not realize it already, which most often they did, we took the opportunity to discuss that many words can have more than one meaning.

Literature to support this unit:

We put on our science caps again and talked about big and small animals, and when time allowed got to look thru books at animals.  I was only teaching math for these lessons, but since I started out teaching science I have never been to fully take that cap off.

The younger classes were given a kinesthetic activity as review.  I held up an item, and they had to "go find" something in the classroom that was either bigger, smaller, taller, longer, or shorter than what I was holding.  They would bring me the item (or if it was not removable like a poster or display I would go to them) and we "measured" or "compared" the items to see if we were correct.  I always took this opportunity to verbalize that I was "lining up" the two items and why we did that.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Meaurement: Length

Edit: this post has been getting a lot of views, but my other measurement ones are not. If you you click on Measurement on the right side panel, it will bring up all my posts on measurement for you to review.  Lots of ideas there! 10/29
Measurement continued!

For the LENGTH lessons, we replaced tall, taller and tallest with LONG, LONGER, LONGEST and HORIZONTAL and reviewed the suffixes and when to use them.  

Those yellow strips came back out and once again we were comparing our strip to each other's strip.  We found our match - the same size, then the two groups found one that was shorter than ours and on that was longer than ours.  Once again, I had the shortest and the longest with me so no one was left out.

Another activity we did was comparing shoe length.  This requires NO advance preparation, fills in a time gap easily, and is fun.  Who doesn't like being able to take off their shoe in school!  Just try not to plan it when you are expecting a fire drill...LOL  Here are some of my pre-K students comparing who's shoe is the "longest" and "shortest."  There is always one kid with really big or really small feet, so you are guaranteed success!

The Long and Short of It

My favorite book to read with this lesson is:

We tie it into science with a discussion of animals and their body parts.   You can offer large picture books and task small groups to find the animal with the longest legs, shortest neck, that kind of thing.


Here is the Kindergarten worksheet that followed.  Great to assess this concept.

This freebie came from Maria at KinderCraze.  You can see the materials on the table - I gave this as a workstation one day.  They cut the strips any where they wanted, then had to sort them appropriately.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Measurement: Height

Measurement: Height!

My school used Everyday Mathematics for many years.  One of my favorite activities from that curriculum I adapted to use with K.MD.1 and K.MD.2.  This activity requires some prep work on your part, but if you laminate the paper before cutting it, it will last you a VERY long time.   

Here is a picture of it in action, then I will explain:

What these two (older threes class) students are doing is comparing two strips of yellow poster board.  I took one regular-sized poster board and laminated it.  I then cut it into ten different sizes strips.  Each size had two strips that matched.  Took a bit of planning, but if you use two pieces of posterboard it may be easier.  The students were randomly handed out a strip.  This was a lesson on height; but was used a second time for length; just hold the strips horizontally instead of vertically.

The students were then charged with the task of finding the strip that was the same size as theirs.  You can see two students lining up the strips and checking to see if they are the same.  Once you found your match, you sat down with your partner so everyone knew you were not available anymore.  This is why you see some students sitting in the background.  Vocabulary for this lesson was: SAME, COMPARE, HEIGHT, VERTICAL.  The next lesson the students again received a strip.  I separated them into two groups; one group stood up with their strips and held them vertically.  The other group had to compare their strip to the standers and find one that was either shorter or longer than someone else's strip.  I made sure to keep one of the shortest and one of the longest strip for me, and when it came close to the end, I would hold up whichever strip was needed and reminded the kids not to forget to compare theirs to mine!  This was no one was stuck with no partner.  I allowed multiples in the partners; the student with a really short strip tended to have a bunch of members from the other team with them at the end.  The searchers then became the standers and the new searchers then had to find the opposite size than had been asked before.  New vocabulary: SHORT, TALL, SHORTER, TALLER.

A third activity had groups of three to five students placing their strips in size order.  This of course is a higher grade level activity, but they were very capable of doing it and they loved the strips.  Vocabulary for that lesson added: SHORTEST and TALLEST.  I used this opportunity to discuss the suffixes -er and -est and when to use them.

Here is my messy portable white board at the end of the ordering sizes lesson. 

Buildings came from KidsSoup.  You can also offer architecture or picture books of buildings and in small groups/centers/workstations have the children look thru the books and discuss the heights of the buildings.  You can turn it into a writing activity as well.

I do use real math vocabulary words with ALL my students. Horizontal  and vertical are not hard words; no words are.  They can learn them just as easily as any other word. 


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Kindergarten Common Core Standards

I am taking a break from the clothesline posts and switching gears to covering the Kindergarten Common Core Standards in Math.  I have mentioned a few times how much I LOVE using literature to teach math; I try whenever possible to tie a math concept to a book and a hands on activity.  My next set of posts will hopefully encourage you to do the same.  So taking one domain at a time, here I go!  


Describe and compare measurable attributes. 

This domain is comprised of three different standards:

K.MD.1. Describe measurable attributes of objects, such as length or weight. Describe several measurable attributes of a single object.

K.MD.2. Directly compare two objects with a measurable attribute in common, to see which object has “more of”/“less of” the attribute, and describe the difference. For example, directly compare the heights of two children and describe one child as taller/shorter.

K. MD.3. Classify objects into given categories; count the numbers of objects in each category and sort the categories by count. 1

1 Limit category counts to be less than or equal to 10.

Let me start by saying this is probably my least favorite of the domains.  I think it is WAY too easy for a Kindergarten class to compare only TWO items. Most of my three year olds last year could tell me which cookie was bigger and which cookie was smaller without even thinking about it!  :) But in all seriousness, I do believe comparing only two items is way too easy. But, since my opinion was not taken into consideration when creating these standards, I will work with what we have been given and will quietly continue to have my students compare up to whatever they are comfortable with.  My Kindergarten class last year did five items without any difficulty.  I am curious as to how the rest of you feel about this.  PLEASE COMMENT AND LET ME KNOW!!  

The next few days make sure to keep stopping by as each post will be something different to go along with this domain.  

Just a reminder, you can click on the Common Core App on the right of my blog ---------------->
at any time!


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Best Investment Ever

I think my most favorite "purchased" item that I had in my classroom was my large dice. 

I am fortunate that my school purchased them for me, but unfortunate as I could not take them with me when I left.

Click to View Video and Other ImagesThese are the ones I used: Large Dice

 They are from Discount School Supply and currently retail for $37.  Yeah, that is a lot, but I did not have to pay for them!  :)

I bet you can find cheaper ones.  Or go in on a set with another teacher.

Prior to owning these dice, I had made my own out of square boxes I acquired somewhere.  My home made dice lasted about 3 years, and I was not able to change what each face said.  So one had numerals and the other had dots. 

This is a picture of my "old" dice:

So how did I use the dice?  Oh my gosh is SO many ways!  If you have read some of my early posts, you may remember I am big on being active in the classroom.  Maybe cause my students were all so young, but I feel like even the older students can benefit by them as well.  This set let me put movements into the activity that we may not have normally thought of.

Young students: roll 1 die; start with dots then move up to numerals.  Have 1 student count the dots then choose a movement for the class to do "that many" times.  To get more students involved at once, have one student roll, one count, and another pick the activity.  I used this activity without the dice as we learned about each number; this is a great way to review all numbers you have covered so far, or you can put the same number on each side, so it always comes up "3."  See how long it takes the kids to catch on!  I usually prompt the first few movements, like "clap three times" or "jump three times" (make sure you wear comfy shoes that day) then let the kids take over.  Really gets those wiggles out of the little ones.

Preschool students: you can use the dice as part of a themed activity where they make a physical connection to objects based on the roll of the dice.  Here, the student could roll a die, either read the numeral or count the dots, then "feed" the squirrel that many acorns.  Can be adapted to ANYTHING - put that many apples/leaves/snowflakes on (or take off) a tree; make a tower with that many blocks; count out that many goldfish for snack, you get the idea. 

Pre-Kindergarten students: once your students recognize their numerals add the second die and they can match sets.  Roll the two dice; did you get a match?  Are there more or less dots than the number you rolled?  Could not find pictures of that in action. But...

Kindergarten and first grade: here the students used the big dice in a couple ways, then followed up with a small group and individual activity with small dice.

The rolled the dice and the students tallied on the white board how many times each number came up.  This was partial tally writing and partial probability lesson.  I find this is a great activity to cover both concepts in a fun way.

The students working on their individual tallies.  I asked them to roll their die a specific number of times, like 40.  So they had to keep adding their tallies up to see when they hit 40. :)

Another way we used the big dice was for addition and subtraction practice.  We used the dice as a group activity, counting the dots chorally to add.  I would (or sometimes a student) write the addition sentence on the white board so we could "see" what we just did verbally.  As time went on, the dice were changed to have numerals on them, and we used small manipulatives (coins in this picture) to add. 

For subtraction, I had one dice with numbers 5 and above, and the other dice had 0 - 4.  We had to work harder to find the difference than we did for the sum, but the kids caught on pretty well.  At first we wrote the numbers that we rolled on the board, and figured out which on was "greater." We then wrote the subtraction sentence and added attribute block magnets to represent the larger number.  We took away the smaller number and voila! We found the difference.  Older students can roll the dice to add more than two numbers, multiply, or divide.  Orrrrrrr...you can use it for place value identification. 

Another example of using the dice is in my post titled Making Numbers 5/26/2012.

By using dice that  you can change the faces, you can customize the dice to every activity. I used them once to build a snowman; they students had to roll six different body "parts" to build the "whole" snowman.  But that is a whole other concept!

Does anyone else have big dice they use in their classroom?  Can you share some of your activities?  This is just a small sampling of what can be done.  Hope I've inspired you a bit today, to get those kids up and moving instead of sitting in chairs all day.  Math should be hands on, and fun!!


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How to hang clothesline in classroom

Interesting question. While looking at my bog stats I noticed that title was used as search words that landed someone here.  So I thought I would answer it!  How did I hang mine?  I used a pocket chart stand for one side, and my portable white board for the other. 

You can see how it is draped across at the student's level.  I liked using two items that had wheels, so I could stretch out the clothesline as far as the rope allowed, or made it as small as I needed it.  Another option would be to use two student chairs.  This was hung only when I needed it, this way I could customize the size based on the activity.

I did have a permanent clothesline hung in my room, about 8-12 inches form the ceiling.  This I used to display the student's work.

You can kindof see rockets hanging from it above us.  Sorry for the bad scribbles on the faces, but I do not have permission to post any of the kids pictures.  I really wish I had known I'd need blog pictures one day...LOL.  We used a simple metal loop that screws into the wall to attach that line.  That is another option, if you have a big enough loop - just attach it to one spot on the wall, and use something moveable for the other side.

Bingo!  You have a clothesline!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

You can use this on a clothesline!

LOL Yes, I guess I am obsessed at the moment with that darn clothesline.  While blog hopping this morning during breakfast I popped into Kindergarten Crayons to see what Fran had going on, and found this wonderful freebie she is offering right now.  I hope she does not mind me sharing it. :)  (I did leave a comment on her blog lettering her know!)

It's a set of large number cards that comes with matching ten frames.  OMG I could so use this on my clothesline as a matching activity!

So I wanted to share it with you - stop on by Fran's blog (linked above) or go here to download it free from TpT Ive Got Your Number.

Enjoy!! Kathy

Monday, September 3, 2012

Fall Counting Idea

I decided to start cleaning out my Pinterest boards today, as I've gone a bit overboard on some of them.  Like my recipe boards.  :)  But while I was doing that, I thought I'd ponder thru my Math Center board and came upon this fun idea I had saved.

Fall Leaf Counting

This is a Montessori based blog.  It has a great idea where you use sticky fall leaves, clothespins and ribbons.  I bet you can find the materials pretty cheap at a dollar store.  You can even do this on a clothesline instead of the floor.  :)  Fun, right??


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Clothesline Math Game Posted

Okay, one product done and posted!

Clothesline Number Games 0-20

This set includes two spinners, one with four colors and one with six colors.  There are six sets of number cards 0 to 20, and the symbols +, -, =, <, and >.  A pencil and a paperclip finishes the spinner, and all you need is a clothesline, some spring-style clothespins from the dollar store, and a printer!  I suggest printing them on cardstock and/or laminating for longer use. 

Thanks to Graphics From The Pond for the spinners!

Graphics From the Pond

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Summer vacation

While most of you have returned to school, those of us in the north east are preparing to return next week.  My school district does not have it's teachers reporting until the day after Labor Day, and the kids two days later.  Seems so late this year!

My family spent it's last two weeks of summer on vacation!  Woo hoo!  Two weeks of family togetherness... hee hee.  We drove from New Jersey to Tampa, Florida.  Two days of in the car togetherness.  Then hopped on a seven day Carnival cruise.  Seven days at sea togetherness.  Since we were in the area, we went to Walt Disney World for three more days of Mickey-inspired togetherness.  Then two more days driving home of in the car togetherness.  Fourteen days of family time. So who's ready for school?  LOL

It feels very weird NOT to be planning for a new school year.  Especially since I started this blog.  I spend a lot of time thinking about teaching, talking about teaching, reading blogs about teaching, and planning products to post (I have three that are ALMOST done, lol) but I have no classroom to go to in September.  I took this year off after a very difficult one last year, and can't decide what I am going to do next.  I need to do something this year.  I will go NUTS sitting home.  I am NOT ready for retirement yet!  My school district will start accepting applications for substitutes in about three weeks, so I may start with that.  We shall see....

In the meantime, it's getting my own two boys ready for their year to start.  I have a brand new high schooler and we missed orientation while we were enjoying family togetherness; so I need to get him to the school, get his schedule and a map, and try to help him find all his classes.  Keeping my fingers crossed his classes are not all over the place!

Happy new school year to those already there!


Monday, August 27, 2012

Music in Math

I love music.  I love it not only for my own pleasure, but in my classroom as well.  There was almost always music playing in the background during free time, during lunch time, and I often played jazz or classical during work time; during my circle time we used music every single class.

Some of my favorite background music comes from my time as a Gymboree Teacher.  For almost seven years I enjoyed the wonderful music Gymboree had to offer, and when they added music to the program it was even better.  The music they put together is all content and age appropriate.  They offer a bunch of CDs with each CD being a different genre of music.  I love playing the African CD during free playtime.

My all time favorite for ME is the Surfin Music.  Here is one that is for sale on Amazon: Gymboree Music: Surfin

Other music I use, to teach a specific skill, comes from many sources.  Wee Play offers an abundance (I bought most of mine at Costco) of finger plays and rhymes that I was able to make flannelboards to go with them.

Everyday Mathematics offers a music CD to go along with their curriculum.  Maybe yours does too?

A parent gave me a copy of the CD Movin 2 Math by Jack Hartmann.  I used track #3 Let's Get Fit (Counting to 100 by 1s) almost daily.  Even my three year olds, who could not count to 100, loved doing the exercises.

One song I used soooo much in the springtime is Five Little Butterflies.  I heard it on Barney once, and thought it was adorable.  I made these cute flannel boards to go with the song:

I added the flowers cause my butterflies needed to fly over something.  Anyway, here is the song:

Apparently this comes on a CD too.  Not a big Barney fan, but the kids love the song when I sing it.  So I just don't tell anyone I saw it on Barney. :)  Shhhhhh.....

What music do YOU like to use?


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Carrot Picking...or apple...or pumpkin...

One of my favorite activities to do at the beginning of the school year is to "pick apples from the tree."  I had a set of apples with numerals on them that had been handed down to me by a previous teacher; on one wall I had a big seasonal tree leftover from when I taught science.  The type you buy from a teachers supply store.  I put pieces of velcro on the tree, then on the apples.  Or leaves...which look like snowflakes in the winter when all the leaves have fallen off.  We used little pink flowers in the spring.

I used this tree for so many things; one of my favorite was to pick apples.  On the back of each apple there was a number up to 30.  The students would get a chance to pick an apple from a tree, then they had to tell me the number.  I had multiple apples with the same number on it, and would put up the appropriate numerals based on the age of the class coming in.

This is a great way for me to get a sense of numeral recognition at the beginning of the year.  I would keep a running record of which numerals they got correct and incorrect, and as the year went on I could add to it.  This helped me when assessment time of the year came; if they consistently recognized the numeral 3, I did not need to ask them that one.  I also used the apples to make sets; pick an apple then give me "that many" of something. 

Unfortunately my tree got destroyed and I cannot not locate a good picture of it to show you.  But I do have a picture of some young 3s (and visiting toddlers) "Carrot Picking" in our circle time area.  This was an activity I did in May, I think.

The kids had so much fun and did really well taking turns.  This is a simple shape to draw and copy onto colored construction paper.  I laminated a blank piece of green construction paper and made the tops, then taped them on.  Super quick and easy!  I know EVERYONE has an apple graphic somewhere in their files, and I bet everyone has a pumpkin too.  Fun hands-on activity, helps practice taking turns too.  My Kindergarteners had to pick two carrots and tell me the sum or difference, depending on the unit.  Great workstation if you have the space.  Let's those boys who need some movement in their learning get it out.

Hmmmm....bet you could have the kids order or group the numbers on  a clothesline... :)

Enjoy!  Kathy

Monday, August 13, 2012

Clothesline Fun

I am working on a product for the clothesline activity I mentioned a few posts back.  I am trying to decide what pictures to include.  A clothesline does not need to be used with only "clothes" but they sure make it more fun.  I love how the spring clothespins strengthen the hand and finger muscles that are oh so important for writing.

So I am thinking some seasonal clothes; short sleeve shirt and shorts; long sleeve shirt and pants; hat and mittens; tank top and of course socks.

So what is the problem you may wonder? Finding the clipart that I can legally use and sell with my product. I don't draw well enough on my own.

Does anyone have favorite clipart sites they want to share with me?


Sunday, August 12, 2012

I survived.

Mother-in-law came at 12pm to help. BBQ invites to start at 1pm. Sis in law & family showed up at 1:15 with chairs and tents.  First guest arrives...2pm. Sigh. Final guest arrives at 3:20pm.  The rain happily stayed away until 6pm.  House empty by 8:30pm.

We are in the process today of putting the house, the yard, the basement back in order.  Last of the dishes are drying in the sink.  Bowl of leftover chili next to me as I type.  As promised, here are a couple pictures. Unfortunately I did not get them in until after the food was served, so the bowls ar ea bit moved around, messy and empty, but you get the idea.

I have to say it was worth all the work planning and making the toppings, as the hot dog theme was a hit.  I have to say everyone really enjoyed creating their own dogs.  I did not do any of the more obscure ones, like pineapple salsa that I wanted to, but what I did choose in the end worked out well.  The hardest part about it was trying to decide how much of each topping to make; what if all 32 people wanted onions on their dog?  So of course I had to over plan for all.  Not one topping completely went, and I have tons of leftover onions & peppers, but that's okay. 

My favorite side dish was the coleslaw I made.  I found the recipe here: Creamy spiced coleslaw. I am not a fan of coleslaw in general, but this recipe was fantastic.

The biggest hit?  One of the hot dog choices. I bought them at my local Costco.  They are Kirkland brand, 1/4+ pound dogs, the same ones they serve in the food courts. They went so fast!!!  I bought long torpedo rolls, which are normally used for subs, and they were perfect for these giant dogs & all the toppings you could fit.  Problem was they were so filling, no one was eating up the side dishes! :)

Overall a great day, great company.  Now to finish cleaning up and open a bottle of leftover wine. :)


Thursday, August 9, 2012

What a week it's been around here!  I realized that it was August already and had not done most of what I said I was going to do this summer.  When I say most, I mean pretty much everything.  So I have spent most of last week and most of this week on task #1. Spring cleaning.  Yes, we are more than half way thru the season known as summer, and it is almost time to do my fall winterizing, but I have been spring cleaning. And cleaning. And cleaning.  I have 3 more rooms to do and I am finally done.  Curtains have all been cleaned, walls dusted, furniture moved and vacuumed under, light fixtures cleaned, tops of ceiling fans dusted, blinds cleaned...you get the idea.  Now what is this such a big deal for me? I have horrible dust allergies.  Horrible.  Even with a mask and daily allergy tablets I still have been miserable.  I can really only handle one room a day, then have to leave the house so fresh air can clean out my lungs.  It's terrible and yes I realize I should do it more often since I have such bad allergies, but alas I have not learned my lesson yet. 

Besides the cleaning, I have 32 people coming over for a BBQ on Saturday for my baby's 13th birthday. Yes, it is supposed to rain. 50% chance. So that means 100% it will cause it ALWAYS (and I mean ALWAYS) rains when we have a BBQ.  I put a raindate on the invite, for Sunday, and when some RSVPs came in I was told that they already had plans for Sunday.  So if I move it I will be losing a bunch of guests.  Which is not a bad thing, right?  LOL Except for all the food I will be stuck with!  Plus, there is a 30% chance of rain on Sunday.

Today I started prepping the food.  I was browsing picnic food ideas and I found many references to "themed" picnics;  the food follows a theme.  Well, I thought this was fun, and my son loves hot dogs, so I decided to do a hot dog theme!  Food Network had about 30 different hot dogs listed on their site, so I got creative and picked a bunch that looked fun (and shared toppings so as not to drive myself completely crazy) and off I went.  My hubby thinks I am nuts, but understands that this is my "teacher energy" driving this party.  I am feeling a bit bored, not planning a room, curriculum, lessons, etc that I have to put those planning skills to use elsewhere.  So the party gets it!! 

The bad thing about this theme idea is that I have no idea how many people will choose which dogs, which buns, which toppings, so I have to way over plan everything and how much of everything so I have enough.  Which means I will be left with a LOT of leftovers.

I'll try to take pictures to show you all what the end result is.  I can share right now the guests will have a choice of three dogs (one boiled - Nathans, one grilled - Kirkland 1/4lb, and sausage.  There are three buns too (reg hot dog buns, Portuguese rolls, and torpedo rolls.)  The Kirkland dogs are so big they need the torpedo roll.  For sides, we have a green salad, coleslaw (which is also a topping), cucumber tomato salad, chili (which is also a topping) and a pasta salad.  I made the sides today, except for the chili.  Going to make that in the crock pot tomorrow.  But I prepped the ingredients today; chopped onions and browned the ground beef.  Tomorrow I make everything else; onions & peppers, bacon, other toppings, and cookies to go with dessert.  It is so hard to know how much to make of everything!!  I sliced the onions today, filled an entire gallon-sized ziploc with sliced onions, knowing when it's cooked it'll be 1/4 that.  I just hope it is enough.  Is it okay that when one topping is gone, it's gone?  Or should I have reserves to cook up real quick if they run out? 

Did I ever mention I am not a big fan of having parties?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Using Literature in Math & Book Boxes

Howdy folks!

As I have mentioned before, I LOVE using literature as part of my math (and science) lessons.  I will eventually get to talking about science, I promise.  Math is most recent for me, so it is freshest in my thoughts.

Anyway, here is a great list of math-related literature:

Love 2 Learn 2 Day

I have personally used almost ALL of the Stuart J. Murphy books.  I was lucky to work at a school that owned almost the whole complete set; it was so great the have these books at my disposal.  There were a few titles I needed to get from the library, but the majority sat on my desk.

I also was the proud owner of the NumberTales series from Scholastic.  These two were a great series, if you have ever used AlphaTales you know what I mean.  The set came with a Teachers Guide with worksheets, mini books and other activities.  I loved the mini-books; the students could have their own copy of the story to put in their book boxes for free reading.

What is a book box?  Basically, it's a small shoe box that the students use to collect the books they make throughout the school year.  During quiet times, free read times, or as a center, the students get their box off a shelf and read over books they have created.  These books come from all the subjects; when I taught science I think I provided more books for the box than the literacy teacher. :)

I will admit that the boxes took up a lot of space, but it was well worth it.  Since my students were still young, the boxes were on the smaller side.  Not sure you can do this with older children who have giant feet.  I wish I had a picture to show you! I have no pictures from my first four years of teaching, and during my last three years they stopped using the boxes.  Much to my dismay.  But I continued to make the books....hee hee.

Another option to shoe boxes would be to use file folders; you can buy ones like these that expand on the sides and are already sealed on three of the sides.

The kids can "check out" their folders to bring home and share with their families, or they can be wonderful things to have out for waiting parents during conferences or back to school nights.

 One of the things I love the most about the book boxes is how proud the kids are of their work when they go back and to read and re-read their books.   I have had students proudly show me books they made at the beginning of the year, comparing to what they just made, and they can see their own growth.  They can see how much better they write, or color, or even cut & fold.  The students notice their own progress!


Monday, July 30, 2012


I was looking through my "stats" and have to say I am quite surprised at what keywords are being searched and how those come to my blog.  If you have a blog and have not looked at your stats recently, go for it.

I think my most incredulous search phrase is "kids open each other pants."  Seriously? How did that bring someone to my little blog?  I know I mentioned pants in my clothesline post.  This make me a little uncomfortable now in what I am sharing and how I am sharing it.  All the other searches listed were normal searches that would bring one to a teaching blog.

I'd love some thoughts and comments...how do you all feel about this?


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Math Website to share

I have been going through my bookmarks to find some lovely blogs to pass the Leibster award onto, and happened upon this one I used in the past.  In case you have not seen it yet, I thought I would share it with you.

Math Teaching Resources for K-5

This site offers activities aligned with the Common Core Standards.  There are literacy suggestions in there too, which of course I LOVE!  In case you missed it is a previous post, I love children's literature and use books in my lessons where ever and whenever possible.

The second reason I love this website is their section on math journals.  The push to write more in math really forces the journals back into the math curriculum; there are a lot of great ideas and suggestions by grade level.  You can even purchase pre-made journals to make your life easier, or download their preview to get  yourself started.  Great to use in the beginning of the year when things are crazy!



Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wow & Thanks!

I've noticed increased traffic to my blog this week and last, and I think today I figured out why!  I have been awarded the Liebster Award by Elizabeth at Mrs Hodge and Her Kindergarten Kids!!  Thank you so much!


Thanks so much!! I just found out about this, even though it was a few days ago.  So I am wondering what I need to "click on" to find out when people link to me?  

Okay, so here are the rules for receiving this award:

1. Link back to the person who gave it to you.
2. Post the award to your blog.
3. Give the award to at least 5 bloggers with less than 200 followers.
4. Leave a comment on the 5 blogs to let them know that they have been offered this award.
This award is named for the German word "Liebster," which translates to "beloved" or "favorite", and is given to a "new, up and coming blogger."

Now I need to figure out how to post the award on the blog.  This old dog is trying really hard to learn new tricks!!

I will be back to give out my awards: there are so many fabulous blogs to choose from, and my top favs have already received it!

Thanks again Elizabeth!!

1. Pam at Pocketful of Centers
2. Melody at Teaching Melodies

Monday, July 23, 2012

Clotheslines in the classroom

I have often used a clothesline in my classroom as a special workstation.  I am careful NOT to use it too much; I want to keep it special for the students.  When they would come into my class and see it hanging, the students would get so excited!  One thing I have noticed, especially with the older students, is they remember what we have done, and how often we have done it and if I put something out too often they do not choose it unless it is a "MUST DO" workstation.  My Kindergarten class last year was not happy repeating the same file folder games more than twice.  The clothesline is a fun way of changing up an activity while using the same base materials.  What the students do not realize is that they are also working on strengthening their hand muscles, to make them better writers.

Here are some pics from my clothesline:

These Kindergarteners are matching sweaters to pants.  The pants have a number on the leg; the sweaters have dots.  They count the dots and match it to the pants with that number!  Sometimes they hang them next to each other, sometimes they attach them together; it's up to the student.  I have this set up to the number 20; higher than that and I could not fit the spots on the sweater.  If I had a smaller circle punch I would have made from 20-30.  This idea and patterns came from Mailbox, I believe.

Other ways I have used the number line (which apparently I do not have any pictures of) is matching mittens; ordering numerals; making patterns.  Before I left my job I went through all the pictures we had online and tried to find as many examples of my work as I could.  Unfortunately I did not have access to all of the pictures, so I am missing quite a bit.

Maybe my next product will be a clothesline set!

Have a great day!  Kathy

Friday, July 20, 2012

Pre-K Assessment

I have put together an assessment to be used for pre-kindergarten students.  I know most of my followers are Kindergarten aged teachers, but this could be helpful for the beginning of the year to see what skills your students are coming in with.  It's very basic, and I created it with the Kindergarten Common Core Standards in mind.

You can find it at my TpT store: Pre Kindergarten Math Assessment

And yes, I finally got borders to work!  This was one document that I wanted them for.  I ended up only using on on the cover page.  The assessment includes a set of number cards at the end.  My plan was to put a border on each card, then I realized if I am designing these for the students to cut out, single basic lines are best.  After all, this is designed for 4 year olds!

When going back and looking at the assessment, it makes me realize what these students are capable of at such a young age.  The school I worked at the last seven years was considered an "academic" preschool; each year was going a grade level above what would normally be expected of them.  I had a conversation one day with a Facebook friend; she was so proud of her son, who was just turning 5, that he had written his name "almost legibly" (her words) for the first time!  It brought me back to reality, as I was used to my students.  My incoming pre-kindergarten students were writing their names legibly on a daily basis.  Part of our three-year old program included writing first names, in pre-K they learned to write their last name.  So back to my friend; she posted pictures on Facebook, so very proud; and it really made me think about the difference in a school like mine, the 3 hour twice a week preschool her son went to, and even the kids who do not have any previous schooling prior to entering Kindergarten.  These students are all over the place, and you wonderful ladies deal with it every school start.  So kudos to you!!!  Having a differentiated program in each and every classroom is so important.  I don't see as much of that; if you can afford to send your child to where I taught, then your child (unless there was a learning disability) was prepared for what we expected.

I hope my assessment is found to be helpful; I designed it to be used three times, so growth of knowledge can be documented.  It is multiple pages, so you can do as much or as little as time allows.  When a student has "mastered" that page, it does not need to be repeated.

Well, off to errands, in the rain.  Sigh.   But I guess it's not 100 degrees again, so should be thankful for that.

Have a great weekend everyone!  Kathy

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pet Peeve of mine

My husband laughs at me; so I thought I would bring this to the blog world and hear what you all have to say.

Look at this:  4 4 4 Worksheet   What is wrong with it?

The fours are different!!!  Way too often I get these worksheets with different types of the same numeral.  Four and nine are the worst offenders.

Does this drive anyone else crazy?  I feel like it's a waste to buy a set of worksheets, to not be able to use one cause it's wrong.  I do agree that the students need to be able to recognize numerals in different fonts, but when we are learning how to write, shouldn't the worksheet be consistent?  I am not picking on the creator of this particular sheet; I have some from Scholastic that are the same way! 

So does this bother anyone else or is it just me?  Do I need to get over it?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Happy Tuesday!

Happy Tuesday! 

I am sitting at my kitchen table, finishing my yummy breakfast, trying desperately to figure out why Open Office is making  my life miserable. Ha ha.  I can't get it to recognize any of the fun frames and borders I found.  I click on the one I want, the pop up goes away, then the list comes right back up.  I just don't know what I am doing wrong.

So today, one of the hottest days we have had since the last heat wave, my goal is to search and research till I find the solution!  I have two great products ready that are borderless at the moment.  So once I figure this out I will bring them on over.

I am so thankful at all the traffic I am getting the last week!  My view count has risen dramatically, both here at at TpT.  So thank you!!  I am looking at joining Teacher's Notebook as well this week.

Welcome to my new followers as well!  I have hit the magic 10! 

So in the meantime, I don't know about you, but I love watching videos of classrooms around the world.  I really enjoy seeing different methods of teaching and firmly believe that we can learn a lot from other countries.

Here is one I watched recently that I LOVE: the hands on approach and how they use small groups in Year 1.  My classroom looked very much like that last year.  The more active you can make learning, the more the kids will learn!

Early Childhood Math: Building Confident Problem Solvers

I would love to hear what you think!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Common Core Posters

I hope you like the new posters I made for the Kindergarten Common Core Math Standards.  I tried to make them bright and colorful to draw attention in a quick and easy manner by the reader.  I think they will be a fun addition to your hallway or classroom bulletin boards.

You can find them in my TpT store by clicking on the link: Common Core Posters

If the posters are popular, or if anyone wants, I can make them for other grades as well.  Each domain has it's own background, so it is easy to find which ones go together. Plus, there is a blank of one each so you can write any of your own that you need!

I'd love feedback from anyone who wants to leave it, either here or in my store; I am still new to the process so all constructive criticism, good and bad, is welcome.  I want to make products that meet the needs of my fellow teachers!

I spent my afternoon today visiting a local winery; it's "barrel tasting" weekend around the state and each winery is offering a taste of two wines that are still in process.  It's neat to get to try them now, then to go back when they are ready and see the difference time can make.  Hope you all had a nice Saturday!


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fly products are up at Teachers Pay Teachers

I think I figured this whole thing out and my first set of products are up and ready!  I am excited to see my fly freebie has been downloaded 11 times within a few hours of posting it.  I hope those little guys enjoy their new homes this school year.

Here is the link to my TpT store: My Store!

This afternoon (once my allergy-induced sneezies stop) I am heading into my basement to finish my cleaning/organizing.  I should finish today then it's time to decide what's next.  If you ask my hubby, that should be planning our anniversary vacation.  But he's at work...hee hee. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fly Freebie is ready!

Well, took longer than I expected, but here it is!

I opened a TpT store where you will be able to purchase this cute little guy in a few different formats.  He will be available in color with numerals, letters (upper and lower) as well as word families.

But you my followers and visitors have the opportunity to grab him here in a blank format; you can customize him as necessary.  I have to say he was fun to design; the fly graphic is mine and mine alone - I did not use any graphics from anyone else.

So here ya go!  Enjoy, and please let me know how you plan on using him!


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Kindergarten Math Common Core Standards

I have to share this new find!  And it's FREE!

While blog hopping in my free time, like what ELSE is there to do when it's 100 degrees outside BUT blog hop, I came across 3 Teacher Chicks's blog,  These three ladies teach kindergarten, second and third grade.

One of the projects I have on my to-do list is to create a "kid-friendly" poster set of the math common core standards, to be used when documenting or displaying the student's work.  Could be used for back to school nights, conferences, whenever you have people in your classroom or hallway.  At my previous job, I was required to fill a portion of our very long straight hallway with examples of learning in my classroom.  I would make simple word document, mount it on construction paper, and hang it up with the work.

Something like this: 


This is where we displayed the weekly graph that the 2 pre-K classes made each Monday.

In my defense I can say I did eventually get a background with bulletin board paper and a cute border.  But I can't get my hands on a good pic to show you.

But you get the idea.

So anyway, my plans were to make a kid-friendly version of each standard, make a cute poster for it, this way it looked much more exciting and fun when displayed.  Back to why I mentioned the 3 Teacher Chicks blog.  They have already made a fun and FREE kid-friendly list!  I thought I would share it with you.

Kind Math CCS with kid-friendly language

Is that not great?!  Great minds do think alike!


Update: posters are now available at TpT!  You can find them here Common Core Posters

Saturday, July 7, 2012

One of my favorite places

Good news - our new computer has shipped!  It is expected to arrive by July 12...and in that box is my new software! I can't wait!

In the meantime, I thought I would share with everyone a place that I found quite by accident.  One day I turned on our bedroom tv, which pretty much only gets used at night, to listen to music while I did some stuff in the room.  So the tv was on a channel I don't usually watch, and playing was a show called "The Teaching Channel."  It was a one-hour show filled with short videos by teacher for teachers.  I instantly got sucked in (of course!) and at the end they showed a website for more videos.  Later that day, I got a chance to check out the site and was pretty much glued for the evening as I watched video after video.  I watched videos about the age group I was teaching, the subject I was teaching, and pretty much every one under the middle school age.

Those teachers featured gave me some awesome ideas!!  Some of my best came from a 5th grade literacy teacher, of all things.  I used a bit of this and a bit of that from different teachers, and came up with a great teaching model I used for my math classroom.

So there is the wonderful place I still frequent: Teaching Channel

They offers a play to "make notes," and even one of those cute little buttons you can add, so that you can save things from other sites back to your note area.  There are weekly newsletters you can sign up for, to let you know about new videos.

I thought today I'd share a video I found to be cute!  I am VERY into kinesthetic learning, especially for the younger classes.  I incorporated music and movement as much as possible into my daily math lessons.  I did not get to try this one out - I ran out of time at the end of the school year but I would love to know if any of you have done it, or plan on it next year.

What do you all think about this activity?  I'd love to hear what YOU think!!

Mingle & Count