Video segment about me, by the school district

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Common Core Freebies and Numbers to 20

"Bears at the Beach" by Niki Yektai

As I was reading and thinking about the Common Core Standards, I decided that I wanted to change some of my materials to focus more on numbers 10 to 20.  I have found that it's difficult to find quality books that concentrate on the teen numbers.  One great book that does is Bears at the Beach by Niki Yektai.  I like this book because the watercolor illustrations are colorful and fun.  I'm going to place this book in my math center after reading it so that children can count the objects over and over again.

Another game that I'm going to place in my math center, in a pocket chart, is this matching activity where students count the number of objects and then have to choose the correct numeral to place next to it.  This corresponds with this Common Core Standard:

K.CC.4:  Count to answer "how many?" questions about as many as 20 things arranged in a line, a rectangular array, or a circle, or as many as 10 things in a scattered configuration; given a number from 1-20, count out that many objects.
Number Matching 1 to 20

For the students' independent seat work after we read Bears at the Beach, I'll have them do these cut-and-paste activities where they cut numbers from the bottom of the paper, trace the numbers, color the pictures, and glue them into the missing boxes.

Number Fill in the Gaps 1-20 Bears Dashed
Number Fill in the Gaps 1-20 Shirts Dashed

Some really great songs that count up from 1 to 20 are "Counting 1 to 20" by Jack Hartmann, "Country Countdown" by Dr. Jean, and "The Number Rock" by Greg & Steve.  My kindergartners have often enjoyed wearing number necklaces and bouncing a ball the number of times that is on their necklace when I call out their number.

If you are interested in number books from 1 to 20 where students color and draw shapes, as well as write the sentences on each page, I do have a beautiful set on Teachers Pay Teachers for $2.00:

Number Shape Books

I also just opened a new shop on Teacher's Notebook called "Sharon's Shop" that has a set of the cut-and-paste sheets from 1 to 20.

Thanks for stopping by!  If you know of other great number books, please tell me about them in a comment below.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fascination Award

Hello friends!  I just found out that my blog was nominated for a Fascination Award!  If you have a second and would like to vote for me, I would be so thankful!
Fascination Awards by

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Using DUPLOs

For the last 20 years, I have used DUPLOs in my classroom and in my home when young nieces and nephews come over to play.  I used to buy my DUPLOs at full price, but now I look for special sales at Lego stores and try to pick up different sets at thrift stores and yard sales.  Let me tell you, you can find really good deals at yard sales.

Cover of the book "LEGO City Heroes!"

I received the book LEGO City Heroes! by Scholastic for Christmas last year, from a dear friend who knows that I would rather have teaching supplies than things for me.  This is a lift-the-flap board book that can be used as a read-aloud or placed in a center for pre-k or kindergarten children to have wonderful building adventures.  It also teaches social studies concepts such as community helpers, the tools/vehicles they use, and where they work.

Sometimes I feel like there is so much paper work for our kids today.  I really like to give my students opportunities to develop their fine motor skills in a way that's creative and totally fun for them.

Students building with DUPLOs in  a water table

There are so many fabulous sets that you can find or purchase; your children will never be bored!  I have found sets for the farm, zoo, community helpers, dinosaurs, and many more.  Since my children came in this year speaking very little English, the DUPLOs helped to put them at ease because they recognized different animals.  That's how they started role-playing together, pretending that they were the various animals.  Throughout the year, I placed DUPLOs in my science, math and construction centers.

I would like to find or purchase more sets that deal with habitats and simple machines, to use in science and social studies.

In ABC center I always place these DUPLO letter tiles and boards.

Student spelling her name with DUPLO letter tiles

In kindergarten, I plan to use these for word families.  I think it'll be a great way for the students to see how they can just change the first letters and make a new word.  For math, Lego also has a number and mosaic set.

One strategy that I used in pre-k was putting my students' names on Mega Blocks and then having them vote for different things throughout the day.  The blocks with their names on them really personalized the activity for all of my students and increased name recognition, one-to-one correspondence, measuring skills, and the concept of more and less.  I'm going to continue to use blocks with their names on them in kindergarten for the daily question, how we get home, spelling their friends' names, making real graphs, and data analysis.  I had to use the Mega Blocks because I also had to fit the Braille on each block so I could read the students' names.  But I had colleagues who used DUPLO bricks for the same purpose.  They said they found it very convenient to store, since they could keep them all in one basket.

Using Mega Blocks to graph a student vote
Using Mega Blocks to measure student height

Here is the site for Lego Education, in case you wish to browse some of their products:

Lego Education

I'm also very excited that I recently became a member of LEAP (the Lego Education Advisory Panel) and will be able to contribute ideas to the manufacturers for the development of these products.  Lego is paying my way to an annual LEAP conference in Kansas City, Missouri in July - I'm really looking forward to it!

I'm very interested to know how or if you use DUPLO or Lego products in your classrooms or at home with your kids, grandkids, etc.  Please leave me a comment - they always make my day!  :-)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Amazing Area

"Bigger, Better, Best" by Stuart Murphy

The book Bigger, Better, Best by Stuart Murphy is an absolute treasure for K and up.  It's a great way to integrate math, reading and social studies.  The book is about siblings who bicker over everything.  When they move into a new house, they debate about whose room is bigger.  Their parents provide them with papers so they can measure for themselves the windows and floors.  This book is an excellent springboard for talking about area.  The book is also funny and, to be quite honest, portrays children in a realistic manner.      I read a review on Amazon that criticized the story because the children do not get along.  Ok, let's be honest.  Anyone out there who has siblings close in age can tell you that you love each other, but you don't get along perfectly.  I also like this book for that reason.  You can talk about how Jenny and Jeff are driving their younger sister, Jill, crazy.

We measured the windows in our classroom, as well as our blackboard, with paper squares.  My kindergarten students were really excited about measuring everything in the classroom.  I designed this sheet to use with Starburst candies so I could assess how the children were doing with this concept.  I love using manipulatives.  Also, because the Starbursts were wrapped, it was very hygienic and I let each child keep a few to eat after they did their problem-solving activities.  You can also have the children estimate before they actually put the Starbursts down.  I did have to remind my kindergarten students that it doesn't matter if their estimation is correct.  I think sometimes they just have this innate desire to be right.
Area With Starbursts

I have searched for songs on this topic.  The two that I found are "Boogie Woogie Measurement" and "Perimeter, Area, Volume" by Learning Math By Song.  "Boogie Woogie Measurement" is very jazzy and is probably suited for 1st and 2nd grade more than K.  "Perimeter, Area, Volume" is a clapping song and can be used for kindergarten but again is a little bit higher - maybe 1st or 2nd grade would be more appropriate.

If any of you have great ideas for area, I would absolutely love to hear about them!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Eric Carle

Yesterday was my last day of school.  It was challenging to teach a morning and an afternoon pre-k class AND pack up the room at the same time!  One thing that made it very pleasurable for me was revisiting my favorite Eric Carle books.  The carousel above shows some of my favorites that I've used in both kindergarten and pre-k.

I have found that the entire "Very..." series of books is so marvelous because every single book has something special about it that the kids adore.  From the cricket sound in The Very Quiet Cricket to the flashing fireflies in The Very Lonely Firefly, these books really capture the imaginations of young readers.  The Grouchy Ladybug is a great book for introducing and teaching time.  I really wanted my students to have an opportunity to manipulate clocks as we read the story aloud to them, so I made these ladybug clocks with movable hands:

Grouchy Ladybug Clock

My kids really enjoyed retelling The Very Hungry Caterpillar, so I downloaded Hungry Caterpillar Sequencing cards, laminated them, and put magnets on the back.  They really enjoyed using the book in combination with the cards to retell the story.

As you all know, I love using music in my classroom.  I have found two songs, based on Eric Carle books, that are really neat to use for sequencing:  "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" by Greg & Steve, and "Polar Polar, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?" by John Archambault and David Plummer.  For the "Brown Bear" song I made rectangular cards that the kids held and sequenced by standing in a line.  When it was their turn, they stood up to display their card, so they had to be listening to the song.  One year, we performed this song for the parents and passed a microphone down the line.  The children got to sing their own part.

Brown Bear Cards

For "Polar Bear, Polar Bear", I made 2 of each of these necklaces for the students.  The students stood up when it was their turn and made the animal sound.  The "Polar Bear" book in the carousel at the top of this post also plays sounds for each animal.

Polar Bear Polar Bear Necklaces

I found an excellent resource for Eric Carle information and materials: The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.  Their web site sells a lot of fabulous games, fabric, furniture, puzzles, and more.  I especially like their Hungry Caterpillar puzzle (my kids really love it!) and the Very Books Block Puzzle.  Check the site out if you get a chance.

I would love to hear about your favorite Eric Carle art projects, games, or activities!