Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Numbers, Numbers, and More Numbers

We are reaching that point in the year where I expect my owls to have a strong handle on numbers, not only identifying them but really understanding them.  I really focus on numbers and sprinkle in other math skills, like shapes and basic measurement, up to this point because I dive into addition after our little Thanksgiving break.  We will still work on numbers in math stations, but my whole group instruction with them is now on the back burner.

To have a bit more fun with our last days of numbers, we have been playing around and working with the two following activities-
For this activity, the owls spin a spinner with numbers they needed work on and then built the number onto a ten frame mat.  Super simple and little prep needed!
My owls L-O-V-E playing this game!  We started the year out by playing the alphabet version of this game and the owls were beyond engaged.  When I brought out the math edition, they went crazy!!!  To play- Divide the class into two teams.  Two players come up at a time and each will get a "splatter" (fly swatter.)  Teacher calls out a number and the first player to "splat" the correct number gets the point.  Again, super simple and little prep needed!
Click on the pictures to take a better look at the activity in my TPT store.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Teen Numbers

My owls are in full swing with their learning about teen numbers.  Each year, these teen numbers provide a not so pleasant bump in our learning.  :(  On the positive side of this, my owls are not letting the teen numbers get them down this year.  They are working hard to get them down and to push ahead. 

When I noticed that these particular numbers were going to cause some issues, I went ahead and found everything I could that dealt with teen numbers.  I have at least one if not two math workstations that include an activity that revolves around either identifying the teen numbers or counting the teen numbers.  We are definitely working them until they are stuck in our heads!

I put together this little activity and introduced it with this past week's stations.  The owls are having a blast with it.  Right now I have them identifying the teen number, counting the pictures until they find a match, and then using buttons to double check their counting.  Here's what it looks like in action!
Click on either of the pictures to grab this simple yet engaging station for free in my TPT store. 
I have a couple sets of these cards printed and I'm thinking that after our little Thanksgiving break, we will play "Go Fish" with the cards.  Otherwise, my owls love a good game of "Memory," so that is always a possibility.  The truth is that there are so many options with just one set of cards, you just have to really go by what your students are showing an interest in. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What Do You Do With Those Spare Minutes??

As the end of our first trimester grows closer and closer, the pressure to get my owls to a level of proficient is definitely setting in.  The best way I can handle my stress levels and not overwhelming my owls is by literally using every minute of the day.  Now I'm sure this is nothing new to most of you but I thought I would share just what this looks like in our world.

We take two whole class bathroom breaks each day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  Our school is an older building so its layout is not one of a functional manner.  The boys bathroom is on the same side as our classroom and the girls bathroom is on the complete other side of the school.  Envision the letter u and that is the shape of our building!!!  Due to this layout, our bathroom breaks take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes.  In the world of learning, those are valuable minutes that are simply being used to walk from one bathroom to another.  YIKES!  To make this time more academic and productive, I grab a set of flashcards and away we go. 

This week's focus has simply been letter recognition, so I grab our letter flashcards as we leave the room.  As the owls use the bathroom, the ones waiting in line are whispering the letters that I hold up.  We usually can make it through the entire alphabet three times.  My owls get a kick out of this little extra learning time and I can't help but smile while they whisper those letters to me.

If you are looking for a simple set of alphabet cards to work on letters during tomorrow's bathroom break, click on the picture and grab yourself a freebie set!


Friday, November 15, 2013

Five For Friday!

I'm slowly getting back into a groove of blogging regularly again.  Now that I just typed that, I will probably fall off the bandwagon.  Please hold me to this regular blogging business.  :)

To end this week, I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her fun Five for Friday linky.  Click the button below to check out other randomness that has happened this week.
1-  I have blogged T-H-R-E-E times in one week!  Yes, this may seem small to some but to me and my scattered posting schedule this school year, this is a huge milestone!  Go ME!
2-  I agreed to be part of my school's Biggest Loser competition and I'm so glad that I did.  It has given me a great reason to finally kick my soda habit.  I haven't had a soda in over a week and a half!  I've lost two pounds just from that.
3-  I realized that I have hit my one year blogging marker.  I'm currently working on getting a giveaway together.  If you would like to contribute, please leave a comment with this post.  Thanks!
This was our shared writing piece this week.  We are focusing on "zooming" in our ideas.  We started with a big idea of school, narrowed it down to recess, and then narrowed it down to this.  (We play on the monkey bars.)  Forgive the sideways pictures and the terrible drawing.  My owls are really grabbing ahold of writing this year and are really giving it a good try as far as sounding out words.
We worked on 4 shapes this week (circle, square, triangle, and rectangle.)  We talked about the number of sides, corners, and where in the "real world" we might see the shapes.  As an assessment piece today, I put out different building materials at each of the tables and the owls were given 5 minutes at each table to build the shapes with the materials provided.  The above picture shows some pretzel and marshmallow shapes.
Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Now I Know My 123's

Just like with the alphabet, I start my math with a quick number recognition activity.  This again is a quick, action packed 5 minutes and it is done.  It wakes up their brains and gets them thinking "math" in the afternoon.

During this fast paced time, I use dot plates, ten frames, five frames, number cards, fingers, counting the circle, basically anything that is fast, fun, and number oriented.  I recently brought in this little activity and the owls ate it up.  The owls are big fans of any BANG like game, so this was an instant hit.
All I did was printed and laminated the numbers I wanted the owls to focus on with a few additional challenging numbers, hot glued them to wide craft sticks, and POOF! I had a fun game that allowed my owls to get the extra number practice they needed.  The trick is to put small Velcro pieces at the bottom of each stick and on the back of the "coned" cards, so you can change what numbers have the game ending piece.

My little man has lots of construction trucks, so I just found a small enough one that I could fit the sticks in and we pushed it around the circle as we played.  (Sorry, I didn't get any pictures.  Silly camera battery died!)

Click on the picture to download this super fun and super free game for your little ones!  Comments/feedback always appreciated.  :)  (The dot cards and ten frames I use during this time can also be found in my TPT store.)


* I also noticed that I have been blogging over a year now.  Boy, time flies when you are having fun.  If you would like to help out with a giveaway in the very near future for this milestone, please leave me a comment.  Thank you in advance!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Now I Know My ABC's

At the start of each month, I pull my little owls one by one over to me to quickly assess their letter identification and letter sounds.  When I look at letter identification, it is for upper and lowercase letters.  In the past, it has taken my owls a good portion of the year to get to the point where they have mastered the letters.  (This is with having a full year of all day K4!) 

To get this year's owls ahead of the game, I now start my literacy time with a quick 5 minute alphabet focused activity.  Some days are simple things like saying the alphabet forward on the alphabet chart, saying it backward on the alphabet chart, or starting at a random letter on the alphabet chart.  Other days are a bit more involved like playing a game of BANG!  Whatever the activity may be, it is timed so it stays quick.  Even if the game isn't finished, we pack it up and move on.  Remember, this is about letter identification so it is all about naming those letters.

I have a couple freebies that my owls have loved so far this year and I wanted to share them with you.  I have worked these into our schedule by playing them once a week for a month, unless the game is really popular, I might throw it in twice a week.
Click on the individual pictures to grab your freebies!  Feedback and comments are always appreciated.  :)
Obviously, there are many other things that can be done with the alphabet, but these few are some favorites of the owls so far.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Letters + Construction = Engaged K5 Boys

So I had a few boys last month that just were not getting into literacy workstations.  They were basically zooming their way through the work and then either just sitting there or finding ways to "entertain" themselves.  We all know what that means!  I have never seen so much nose picking and finger licking as I had during the month of October. 

With that being said, I took a step back and looked at what I was putting in my literacy workstations.  I really needed to make it more "boy" friendly.  What I had put in there was by no means bad, it just wasn't as engaging for the "boys" boy.  Once I knew that was what I needed, I let my mind take over.  After several days and while watching my little man playing with his toys, the creative light bulb came.  I was going to pull together letter identification/word work and construction.  P-E-R-F-E-C-T!
This little pack was born from that idea!  I put together a set of construction themed capital and lowercase letter cards that can be used for a construction version of bang, a letter identification activity, a letter size match up, or a word building activity.  Different recording pages are included for the various activities as well.

This is what I did in my classroom just for letter identification.
Dirt in bucket and little construction toys!  Engaged owls, check!
To make sure the owls were working and not just having a blast digging through the dirt, they had to write down the letters they found. 
Side note-I had two different buckets out, one with just capital letters that we had discussed in class and that all the owls knew and one that had a mixture of capital and lowercase letters, known and not.
If you think that your boys would enjoy something like this, click on any of the above pictures to grab it from my TPT store. 
For fun, I will send it to the first 5 comments I get on this post!  I have really been slacking on this whole blogging thing lately and I want you to know that I haven't forgotten about all you wonderful followers.  :)