Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Adjectives...A Quick and Easy Idea

Today we reviewed adjectives. For some reason this part of speech has been a bit tricky for my group this year.  I'm not complaining though because I love adjectives and all the fun things you can do to teach/reinforce them.

Since tomorrow is Halloween, I had the students create a Halloween Adjectives book.  This book was completely student made.  That is, I did not create any sort of template.  Instead, I simply took two sheets of copy paper, folded them in half, and stapled along the fold.

After briefly reviewing what an adjective is (a word that describes a noun), we brainstormed a list of Halloween nouns on the board.


They made a cover using the title Halloween Adjectives.  On the inside, the students illustrated (and labeled) a Halloween noun.  Then, they wrote a list of 6 adjectives to describe that noun.

This student is my resident artistHer talent is undeniable and it is both amazing and fun to watch her create.  She never ceases to amaze me with her skills.



The students were allowed to consult with their "teaching buddies" as they created their books.   As I walked from table group to table group, I was pleasantly surprised to hear a student give a wonderful piece of advice to his teaching buddy.  She was stuck on her list of adjectives and needed two more to complete a list.  He suggested she think of some synonyms for some of the words she had already written down.  Love it!!

I know we've all had students make things from scratch over the years.  But, I think we sometimes forget just how much the kids enjoy it and just how effective a tool it is.

With that said, the kids loved this activity! They were bummed when they ran out of time and those who had time to spare asked if they could use the back cover as another page in their book.

I loved that it kept them engaged, had them thinking about adjectives (and synonyms), and that it was very minimal prep on my part.  It's also something that could be adapted for a variety of skills/themes!  My mind is already thinking about Thanksgiving....

Do you have any quick and easy/effective activities that you like to use with your students?

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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Last Minute Halloween Idea = Freebie for You!

Halloween is right around the corner (literally) and I like to bring in thematic resources and activities when I can.  So, this week in math we will work with some Halloween themed word problems.

More specifically, the students will write their own word problems. Say what? Yep.  They will write their own addition and subtraction word problems.  We have spent a lot of time solving lots these, so the move to writing their own seems logical.

Why have students write their own word problems?  It's a great way to get them interacting more closely with this particular math skill. By thinking carefully about how to structure their own word problems, they are also more likely to more carefully as they solve other word problems.

I wonder how many more times I can say "word problems" in this post. Ha!

So, I created this fun little "What's the Problem?" mini book for my students to use this week. 



So, here is how you use the booklet.  Each page features an answer to a problem.  The students are tasked with writing word problems (our math program calls them story problems) that go with the provided answer.  

This skill builds upon what the students already know about word problems, but it also challenges them to think about them in a different way.

I plan to complete a few pages together first, after modeling it on the board a few times.  We may even make an anchor chart together.  We will talk about expectations, patterns that we see in word problems, key words to use, and so forth.  This way, students will begin to understand how to be successful with this skill before they are tasked with working on it independently.

When I introduce this with my students, I will teach them to write 3 sentences total.  The first two sentences will spell out the problem.  The third sentence will ask the question.  And, they will use the label throughout their problem.  For example:

There were 10 kids wearing costumes.  Then, 1 more kid in a costume joined them.  In all, how many kids are in costume?


In the space below the story, you could have your students model the problem with drawings, numbers, etc.

You can grab your free copy by clicking here.

This activity was inspired by a training I took a while back, as well as an anchor chart for Think Math that I saw here.

You can find my other "What's the Problem?" mini books here.


Toodles!

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Halloween Bingo Freebie

Halloween is quickly approaching!  As I went through my file of activities this past week, I came across a Bingo game I made a few years back.  I love Bingo!  We don't play it too often in my classroom, so the kids never tire of it when I do bring it out.  It's also the perfect activity to do as we wait for our "parade" to start.  Their minds are not at all focused on learning at that point, and I don't even try and fight that.

I don't have a picture of the version I came across in my files, but it was played using pictures, not words.  I decided that might be better suited for a younger age group and decided to make a more "sophisticated" version.

Introducing, my newly updated and "more sophisticated" Halloween Bingo!


This version of Bingo is played using words.  This means the kids have to read through a set of words quickly to find a specific word.  Much better!

My favorite thing about the game is that the students create their own boards!  There are two options included for filling in the Bingo boards.  Students can either color, cut out, and glue down 24 words from the provided set of mini word cards, or they may write the words on their board.  There are 36 words to choose from.  Also included is a set of teacher "calling cards" and two Bingo boards (one in color, the other in gray scale).

Click {here} to grab a copy of your freebie!

I'd love to hear what you think!! 


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Friday, October 19, 2012

Fluency Friday

Every other Friday is Fluency Friday in my classroom.  Well, I guess it's a combination of fluency and expression, really.  Most of my students are reading fluently, but that doesn't mean there isn't any room for growth!

The students really like this activity.  As the year goes on, I will also bring out Readers' Theater.  Essentially, the kids read a nursery rhyme using their normal voice, as well as a "fun voice."

Here are the materials we use on Fluency Friday.  Nursery rhyme booklet:
 I downloaded these nursery rhymes, for free, from KinderGals.  Click here to get this great freebie.

Talk the Talk: Showing Point of View character cards by Amanda Nickerson:


The booklet is full of nursery rhymes.  Once I explained to the students the reasoning behind using nursery rhymes, there were no complaints about reading "baby stuff."  They actually really seem to enjoy it!  Each time we focus on one new rhyme and go back and reread "old" rhymes.

Here are the procedures I use on Fluency Friday:

1. I read the new nursery rhyme to the students as they "follow along with their eyes."
2. I read the rhyme in chunks and the students echo my reading.
3. We read it whole group (choral read).
4. I pair the students up and they take turns reading the rhyme in their regular voice to one another.
5. Partners then read the rhyme together (choral read).
6. When they're ready, each pair of students gets a set (2) of "fun voice" cards.  They know that these cards are meant to help them use expression as they read.  They read the rhyme to one another in both of the fun voices they were given.
7. Partners may go back and reread older rhymes using any voice they like.  I will even let them trade their character cards for new ones.

Every time the students get this card, they ask me what a Martian sounds like.  Good question!  I tell them that they get to be as creative as can be and come up with what they think an alien would sound like.  The girl that got this card today walked away with a big smile on her face and had fun creating an alien voice. 

They love the fun voices, and they have a tendency to get loud because they're having fun.  Today they were so bummed that they had to stop for lunch time that I gave them a bit of extra time when we returned from lunch!

Do you use any fun fluency activities in your classroom?

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Fun {and Easy} Math Game

Today I am super excited to share one of my favorite partner math games with you! It's an oldie, but goodie. You know, one of those ideas that's passed on from teacher to teacher over the years (which is how I learned about it).  It's called Walk the Plank.



This game is super easy to set up and the kids love, love, love it!  It is a great way to help students reinforce and practice their addition facts.  And, it gives them more practice with following rules and working with others.  Win, win!

For this partner game you will need some paint sticks. I sent my hubby to Lowe's one day and they gave him about 10 (for free...even though he didn't buy any paint).  Nice!  Number each stick as shown.


I recommend using the longer paint sticks.  My first set was made with the shorter ones and while they did the job, the numbers were really squished together.

You will also need some number cubes to match the numbers on your plank.  Mine are numbered 5 through 10.  I used blank wooden cubes and simply numbered them with a Sharpie. Easy peasy!  To play, the students will need two number cubes.


As you can see, the two players will also need some linking cubes. Each player places an individual cube next to each of the numbers on the plank.  They will need 11 linking cubes each. Note: you could use any small object as a game piece.

To play, Player 1 rolls the number cubes and adds their two numbers together.  So, let's say that Player 1 (yellow cubes) rolls a 6 and a 7.  They would add these numbers together and get a sum of 13.  Player 1 would then take the cube next to the number 13 on Player 2's side (purple cubes).  That's what the kids love. They get to take the other player's game pieces!


Play continues in this fashion until one player collects all of the other player's cubes.  It starts getting tricky near the end because the students only have a few numbers left on the plank and they can't control what they roll.  But, guess what, each time they roll they are practicing their math facts. They are learning without even realizing it.  It's the best!!

The numbers shown above work for my second graders, but maybe you'd like to differentiate.  Go for it!  You can label your plank and cubes with whatever numbers you want!  You could also use dice and number your plank from 2 to 12 (or 3 to 18 if you want to use three dice).


For those of you who like things bulleted out for easy reference (that would be me), here's the info again. :)

Materials needed to play:
  • 1 paint stick
  • 2 number cubes/dice (or even 3 dice depending upon the type of plank you make)
  • 11-16 unifix/linking cubes per player (players need different color cubes), depending upon which plank you are using
To play:
  • Each player lines their cubes along the plank, aligning them with the numbers written on the plank
  • Player 1 rolls the number cubes/dice and adds them together and then removes the OTHER player's cube next to that number
  • Player 2 does the same
  • Players take turns adding together their numbers and removing the OTHER player's cubes
  • The first player to collect all of the other player's cubes is the winner!
I hope your students enjoy this game as much as mine do!

DON'T FORGET IT: PIN IT!








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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Nonfiction Fun

On Monday we kicked off our nonfiction unit. We kicked off this unit of study by comparing and contrasting fiction and nonfiction.  I used books to prompt the students' thinking as we discussed the similarities and differences between the two.

 
I then had the students complete a page indicating their preferred reading material: fiction or nonfiction.  They had to state why it was their favorite.


Then, I had them indicate what nonfiction topic they would like to read about. The responses varied greatly.  Some wanted to read about the body and how it works, a few wanted to read about spiders, and my favorite, one wanted to read about Santa because she wants to know how you let him know what you want.  So cute!


The nonfiction book I would choose is about Santa because I want to know about how you tell him what you want.

We also made "pocket cards."  This idea came from one of my teaching buddies and I absolutely love the idea.  Essentially, they are mini flashcards.  The students cut out and glue their vocabulary words onto a small piece of construction paper (3 inches by 4.5 inches, in case you were curious).  On the back, they write the definition of the word. 


The students then used them to quiz each other about the meaning of some key words from the text.

I don't know about you, but our kiddos (I say our, because it seems to be a grade wide issue) have a hard time with proper nouns.  For some reason they have difficulty remembering that a proper noun is capitalized and that it is the special name of a specific person, place, or thing.  So, to help reinforce this concept, the students went on a Proper Noun Hunt (thanks T for the great idea!).  This reader is full of them!


Today the students answered some comprehension questions about the story and tomorrow they will do a quick review by playing a review game before they take a quiz on the booklet.

While a few of these activities were pretty specific to our reader this week, I hope you were able to find some useful ideas!

We will continue to read nonfiction over the next few weeks and I'll continue to share ideas!

Toodles!

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Five in a Row: A Game for Practicing Addition Facts

My friends, it is safe to say that I have math games permanently cemented in my brain these days.  Our school ability groups students by grade level in reading and math.  The math grouping is actually new, so I have been racking my brain to come up with small group math ideas, going through resources I do have to make sure they are at the right level for my group, checking TpT a thousand and one times a day, and stalking Pinterest for any ideas I can find.

As I went through the materials that I already have, I came across this oldie, but goodie.


Five in a Row is definitely a student favorite.  I made these boards my first year of teaching after attending a math workshop.  People, I wrote the numbers with a Sharpie.  That's how old they are.

In my constant quest to make things cute and fun, I decided to revamp this tried and true student favorite.

Introducing the new and improved Five in a Row: Halloween Edition...Freaky Five in a Row! Keep reading on to find out how you can get a set for yourself {freebie alert}.



I love the new boards sooooo much more than my old ones.  They're cute and colorful!  I got these fun Halloween erasers to use as markers with this game board (see photo above).  So cute!  I found them at Michaels. Don't want to go out and buy erasers?  No problem!  This game can easily be played with double sided counters (which is what my students use most of the time when they play this game).


What is Five in a Row?
Five in a Row is fun game where students practice their basic addition math facts in the form of a game.  Students will roll two number cubes (labeled 5-10) or two dice, add them together, and cover the sum on the game board.  The object of the game is to be the first person to cover five numbers in a row.

Materials
  • Game boards
  • Game pieces (double sided counters, dimes and pennies, different colored linking cubes, and so on) NOTE: since the two players share the same game board, they need different game pieces to denote which spaces they've claimed as their own
  • 2 Number Cubes (blank cubes numbered 5 through 10) OR 2 dice (depending upon the level of play)

How to Play
  • Students play in pairs. 
  • Student A rolls the two number cubes (or dice), adds the numbers together, and covers that number on the board.
  • Student B does the same.
  • Play continues back and forth in this fashion.
  • The first player to get five counters in a row is the winner!
Note:  If a player rolls their number cubes or dice, but the sum is not available, then they do nothing (and hope they have better luck when their next turn comes around).

You can grab this Five in a Row game board for free!  It includes color and black and white versions, as well as two levels of play:
  • Sums of 2 through 12 (played with two dice)
  • Sums of 10 through 20  (played with two number cubes numbered 5-10)

Now, if you've read this far, you have earned yourself a freebie!  Click here to download Freaky Five in a Row.

Visit my Freebies page to grab all of the monthly Five in a Row game boards.  :)

Toodles!

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