Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Valentine's Box Project

Valentines is only a few short weeks away.  Every year I give my class the assignment of creating a Valentines holder at home and brining it to school.  This year we will be doing our celebration on Friday the 13th.  to get the families involved, I send home a letter describing our project, then I have sample available for the parents to see, just in case they need some inspiration.

Below are some of the boxes my former students have created.
Do you want your class to create this fun project at home.  You can download my Letter that explains the project.  The letter is available in English and Spanish.
 Of course teachers need to give Valentine's too.  I've been making these for the past few years.  I used to be an avid scrapbooker, so I was able to put my tools to good use.  I used a scalloped heart punch and a large circle punch.  I taped the pencils to the backside.
By the way, avoid the headache of passing out Valentines.  I no longer give lists with names.  Kindergartners can't read their own handwriting much less all the names of their classmates.  Instead I instruct them to bring 1 valentine for each classmate, with no names on them.  When it is time to pass them out, we line all the boxes up in a row.  Then we make a train, walking past each box as we drop our cards into them.  It is quick and simple.  You can grab this Teacher Valentine for free, just click the photo below.
Can you believe it is almost February?  Where did this month go???

Facebook Group and More

Good morning all.  It is Wednesday here and of course I am up before the sun.  I'm trying to catch up on a few things before I hurry off to work.  Some of you might be following me on Facebook, but did you know I recently opened up a Facebook group just for teachers?  I would like to invite you to join my group.  Belonging to a teacher group on-line is a great way to connect with fellow teachers from around the world.  It is a great way to ask questions, learn about something new and just feel connected to others who share the same passion for teaching as you do.  Just click the logo below to go to my group page and join the group. For every 100 new members, I will share a freebie with that group. So click away, what are you waiting for.

Now here is something else I have been up to.  Several years ago I started another blog, Time 4 Organization.  It slowly faded into the never ever land of blogging, until recently.  I have invited a few of my blogger friends to join.  Together we are resurrecting Time 4 Organization.  Come on over  and meet the organizers and see what we have been organizing.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Subitizing- Building Strong Number Sense in Kindergarten

Subitizing seems to be on the front burner of math circles lately.  It means" instantly recognizing how many". Children who have the ability to see numbers in patterns have developed a strong foundation in number sense.

There are two forms of subtilizing, perceptual and conceptual.
Perceptual is the ability to see several small objects and instantly recognize how many.  Children who can instantly recognize the dot patterns on a dice are demonstrating their ability to perceptually subitize.

Conceptual subitizing is the ability to recognize small groups of numbers and add them together, such as seeing two dice one having 4 dots and the other having 3 and knowing that together they equal 7.
Why is subtilizing important?  Subitizing is the first critical phase to understanding addition and subtraction. It is important for children to be able to recognize qualities in a variety of configurations rather than just memorizing facts. Children who are able to subitize,  posses the ability to visualize and understand numbers and numeration.  This firm foundation will lead to operational fluency, the ability to add and subtract mentally, to see the relationships between numbers and have the ability to see patterns within numbers.

Activities to Build Subitizing Skills
Many researchers believe that subitizing is a skill that cannot be taught, but it can be fostered.  Pattern cards, image arrays and concentration games can all help children develop their skills to subitize.  Playing games that involve dice or dominos is another way for students to build subitizing skills.  At first they will need to count the dots each time rather than just recognizing that they have rolled a 3 and a 5.  As their visual recognition of the dot patterns build, so will their ability to recognize that 3 and 5 equal 8.
Making pattern cards is rather easy.  I made these cards using Power Point.  Simply create a table, then add the circle shape filled in with black.  Place the circles is various arrangements like seen below.

Now, if you aren't comfortable using Power Point, the same content can be done using 3x5 index cards and sticker dot circles.

Below is a concentration game my students played matching the dot patterns to the numbers.
Introducing Subitizing With Ten Frames
The first time I saw ten frames in our adopted math series, I wasn't really sure what to think about it.  I didn't understand the reasoning behind the use of ten frames at first. As I began to teach the lessons from the teachers edition, I quickly realized the important role ten frames had on my young mathematicians.  Ten frames enable children to see the relationship between numbers zero through ten. Using ten frames helps students develop visual images for each number.  As students become familiar with the visual patterns on a ten frame, they begin to associate those patterns with specific numbers in terms of their relationship to ten. This begins to set the foundation for knowing the basic addition and subtraction facts for ten. Having sound knowledge of these basic facts are an integral part of mental calculations.

How Do I Foster the Skill of Subitizing?
In my classroom we begin early on using ten frames, dice and dominous.  During my daily calendar routine I have a set of ten frame cards that hang on the calendar wall.  In the beginning of the school year the only thing we are doing is counting the number of dots and saying the number.  As time progresses I will ask the question "How many more dots do we need to make ten?"  Soon the children learn to count the white boxes.  We then begin to make the connections that 6 and 4 equal ten.
During our daily calendar routines throughout the year I introduce other actives that involve dice or dominoes.  At first we just roll the dice, draw the dot patterns, count and write.  We eventually work our way up to using two dice then using dominoes.

Below is another center or whole group actives using ten frames.  I give a number and the students build the model.

This activity used erasers form the Target Dollar spot.
It was quick to make and prep and fun for the kids.

I hope I've given you some ideas on how to introduce subitizing into your classroom and why using dice, dominos and ten frame cards are so valuable in building a child's understanding of number sense.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Snowy Day

The Snowy Day is my all time favorite book!  There is just something about it that reminds me of being a kid.  I didn't grow up in the snow.  In fact, I really only like the snow if I can be inside sitting by a cozy fire, drinking a mug of cocoa.  Its all pretty to look at, but this California girl prefers sand between her toes.  My dislike for the cold weather doesn't stop me from teaching about all thinks cold, polar and arctic though.  We started off the new year with The Snowy Day and followed it up with The Mitten.

We ran out of time last week for my kids to retell The Mitten story using their paper bag mitten and animals, so we will have to work on it this week.  We also made my favorite art project, the puff paint snow.  It is so easy to make, just mix white glue and shaving cream.  Paint on using a sponge brush and let it dry.  The more paint the better.  We did this on Friday so it could sit all weekend to dry.  We added Peter and they were complete.
The snowy Day, Winter, Ezra Jack Keats, snow paint
We've been working on rhyming so I added my rhyming mitten set to my Literacy Work Stations.
We've also been working on word families, so these are also in my Literacy Work Stations.
word families, the mitten, winter activities for kindergarten
For my little friends who are still working on alphabet recognition, they were working with these cards during Literacy Work Stations.
lowercase letters, the mitten, winter activities for kindergarten
All 3 activities above came from my 
This week we will continue our study of Penguins and begin to learn about Polar Bears.  I'll more to share in a few days.  Until then, hope your week is great!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Teaching Place Value in Kindergarten

When I first started teaching, kindergarten math was all about counting to twenty, number recognition to ten and maybe making patterns.  Times have changed,  CCSS has taken over and our kindergartners are becoming little mathematicians.  Growing up I hated math. I couldn't remember orders of operation, formulas and algebra might has well have been cave man writing.

At some point in my teaching career, I began to understand the foundations of math.  I began to enjoy teaching it and I learned to embrace it and love it.  Now as a kindergarten teacher, I know how important it truly is for my students to really understand number concepts.  It isn't just memorizing a bunch of facts.  They need to KNOW all about each number.

I truly love watching my students solve math problems, especially when I ask them to show me how they arrived at their answer.  Last week I had asked a student to explain how she arrived at her answer. We were working on numbers before and after "I used my brain and checked the number line" . Brilliant!!!.  I watched as she would say the number sequence ____, 14, 15  then count back to write the missing number, then check the number line just to make sure.

Lately, we've been working with ten frames, tally marks and are starting to move into the teen numbers using place value rods and cubes.  I started out just wanting a few work mats and some matching cards for my students to use during Math Work Stations.  Thus, a monster was created.  What was going to be a few simple pages turned into 200+ pages.  My students will have a ton of practice to master these concepts. I made each separate pack, then also created a bundle.  You can find each set by clicking my pictures below.
common core math in kindergarten, place value, tally marks, ten frames

ten frames, kindergarten math

tally marks, kindergarten math

place value, kindergarten math
If you have suggestions for other packs, please let me know.  Also I'd love to hear about your favorite ways to teach any of these concepts.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Bright Idea: Use a Wireless Doorbell as an Attention Getter

Happy New Year Everyone.  Our Bright Idea Blog crew is back for another round of bright ideas.  To start the year off, I thought I'd share with you my favorite way to get my students attention. I know I've written about this and many other ways to grab the students' attention quickly before. HOWEVER, this is for me the BEST way and I thought perhaps there are readers who haven't seen this yet.

It starts with a wireless doorbell that can be purchased at the local hardware store or ordered on-line.  I ordered mine from Amazon.  There were a wide selection to choose from.  Some plug into an outlet, others run on batteries.  Most have a variety of tunes that they can play.
My doorbell  runs on batteries and came with two remotes.  Mine actually came with the batteries.  I keep one remote on my technology cart and the second remote next to my small group table.  I have also placed it in my pocket if I think I might need it and don't want to walk over to where it is normally located.
The doorbell part hangs on the wall using a push pin. It is about 4 inches tall.  Very small and inconspicuous, but loud enough for kids to hear.
Once I push the button, the tune begins to play and all my kids stop what they are doing. They place their hands on top of their head and look at me.  
The tune is long enough (but not too long) that by the time it ends everyone is looking at me silently.
Once you give it a try you will wonder how you ever managed without it.  

If you enjoyed this Bright Idea.  Be sure to follow me on BloglovinFacebook, and Instagram

For more bright ideas please be sure to read through all the ideas below shared by my fellow bloggin friends.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sensory Table and Sight Words

sensory table, sensory tub, kindergarten sensoryTowards the end of the summer I asked my husband to build me a few sensory tables.  I had found some directions and photos on Pinterest and together, we designed 2 tables that is perfect for my students.  I used it as a water table the first few weeks of school when it was really warm.  Then, it sat quietly in the corner of our kindergarten office.  It wasn't that I didn't want to use it, it was that I just wasn't sure how to make it academic enough.  Then it hit me, they can explore fun things while learning.

This week we are starting our Polar Animal Explorations and all things Winter.  I had found these large white pompoms in a box of craft items.  I have no idea where they came from, but the minute I saw them I immediately thought of snowballs.  Cotten balls would work too.

Next I created some sight word snowballs and a recording sheet.  Together they made fun sensory activity.
sensory table, sensory tub, kindergarten sensory
sensory table, sensory tub, kindergarten sensory
During Literacy Stations the kids explored through the tub finding the snowballs, reading the words then writing them on their recording sheet.  This is their favorite center so far.
sensory table, sensory tub, kindergarten sensory
Are you ready to create your own sensory tub?
You don't really need a table, just a container and an activity.
I have added my Snowball Sensory Tub activity to my TpT store.
You can use the words I am using or add your own words to this editable product.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

January Writing Center

I'm surviving my first week back.  The kids were really excited and some seem to have blossomed over the two week break.  Today I thought I'd share this month's writing center with you and the process I use to get my students to generate writing.  At a first glance you might think- that's not really all that impressive, but- if you knew what these little ones came in with in August, you would be as amazed as I am.
This is my writing center.  The white board in the background is for our sight words.  This picture was taken in August when the wall was empty.  The wall to the right  in the second photo, is where I place my monthly vocabulary words.
kindergarten writing, writing center, word wall, winter vocabulary
Monthly Vocabulary Words
kindergarten writing, writing center, word wall, winter vocabulary
Each week during ELA center time, I work with a small group of 4-5 students.  This week, we are going over winter clothing vocabulary.  Most of my students are second language learners, so they don't all have the vocabulary for many of the items.  This a two-way learning moment.  They tell me what it is in Spanish, then I tell them what it is in English.
winter vocabulary, ELD kindergarten, kindergarten writing, January Word Wall
After we went over the clothing vocabulary, I asked them to choose one of the times from the cards and that they own and describe it to me.  For my very limited students I offered them a sentence frame.
Once each student has had a chance to tell about their article of clothing, we begin the writing.  Depending on my students ability, I either have them write it on their own, or use the sentence frame.  Before they can begin their sentence, they must tell me again what they will be writing.  I encourage them to use the word wall of sight words that is behind me at our wiring center.  If they have difficulty spelling a word, We work together on finding it on the word wall.  If it isn't on the word wall or on the vocabulary wall, then we talk about how we can segment the words to hear the sounds and we practice that too.

My ELA groups are leveled by ability.  This works well for me during writing time, as the students who are more capable tend to want to write more and those who can't, don't feel self conscious about their abilities.

Once a student has finished their writing, they must read it back to me and then share it with the group. Together we look for positives such as "I like how you began your sentence with a capital letter", or  "You wrote neatly on the lines and used good spacing between your words".  Then we look for something that could be improved.  Perhaps they used a capital letter in the middle of a word, or forgot their ending punctuation.

Lastly, they get to illustrate their writing.  I try to impress upon them that just as it is important to pay close attention to their writing, it is equally important when it comes to illustrations.  Their illustrations need to match their words and should include details.

This student is a second language learner, her corrections were fixing a capital B in black and changing like to have.  This week I told them they couldn't use like in their sentence.
kindergarten writing, writing center, word wall, winter vocabulary
 This student I encourage to write more and be more descriptive.  He came in reading and actually attends a first grade reading group.  When writing, he asked me if the /ee/ in keep was two e's.  Apparently he has a REALLY big hat which is why it keeps him warm.  For him we are working on the details in our drawings.
kindergarten writing, writing center, word wall, winter vocabulary

 If you like my writing center cards, you can find them in my store 

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