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Monday, December 9, 2013

Measurement Practice FUN Activity for Grades 1/2

You can practice the rote skill of obtaining a measurement by measuring a line on a worksheet and writing down the measurement on the provided line...

You can build a math center that features this catapult and have your students measure how far different objects travel when they are projected through the air from this catapult.

If you were in First Grade or Second Grade, which would you rather do?????
The catapults are not difficult to build if you want to build several catapults yourself for the math center. But... I bet if you print these directions off my blog, and give the directions and the needed materials to a 4th or 5th Grade Student in your school to build..
 it would take them about 5-7 minutes to build

The materials are quite common to find, and your school nurse is a great resource for the wider tongue depressors.

You need:
9 tongue depressors
rubber bands
1 heavy-duty plastic spoon.


Step 1 – Take 7 of the craft sticks and tie a rubber band tightly around one end.

Step 2 – Tie another rubber band tightly around the opposite end so all 7 sticks are bound together.

Step 3 – Take the remaining 2 sticks and tie a rubber band on one of the ends. Try to tie the band close to the edge of the sticks.

Step 4 – Insert the 7 sticks banded together through the 2 stick bundle as shown in the illustration below.

Step 5 – Tie a rubber band in a cross fashion joining the two pieces. The closer the 7 stick bundle gets to the edge, the more leverage the catapult will have.


Step 6 - Use a few rubber bands and attach the plastic spoon on the end.

That's it.
Now... for the math measuring fun.
Build in teacher control of the math center by choosing appropriate lightweight objects to catapult. We started with mini marshmallows and chocolate kisses  candies.
Notice that the catapult machine is lined up behind a piece of masking tape on the floor so a consistent beginning measurement line is created.
(This activity also promotes measuring longer distances beyond the dimensions of a piece of paper, unlike the worksheet.)
Before we began we recorded our estimates of the distance (in inches) that we thought the marshmallow would travel, by placing 12 inch rulers in a line next to the measurement area,  to give the students of an idea of actual distances.
Then we activated the catapult. YIPPEE
Notice that we ended up using a metal tape measure to measure how far the object traveled.
Here is a recording sheet for the students to use to record their measurements:
Use this rubric to assess the students in the center:
So what Common Core Math Standards are covered in this activity?
Does this activity seem worthwhile...Yes.
Does this activity seem fun... YOU BET :)
For all my blog followers, just click on the Recording Sheet above  to download a copy of the worksheets from my Google Drive account.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

December Calendar

Here's my suggestion for the December Calendar:

Why little boys in red and green?  Well red and green are colors well know for their use in December.

Why little boys?  I chose them because you can practice counting by 2's.

For example
  How many eyes do the 5 boys have? "Let's count by two's."
  How many ears do the 9 boys have? "Let's count by two's ."
  If each boy hopes to receive 5 gifts on Christmas, how many gifts in all would they receive?
  If each boy does 10 kind acts, how many acts of kindness would happen this month so far?
  If each red boy has 2 sisters, and each green boy has 1 sister how many sisters would they have. (on December 15th)

When you have little boys, it's easy to come up with problem solving situations for the group to solve.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Learning About Time: Half Past

Recently I was working with a First Grader about the concept of "Half Past."  She understood why it was called half, as I had her walk around a large clock model made from a round vinyl tablecloth and she could see that she was halfway around the clock circumference.  But she continued to struggle with the "past " idea.

Then it hit me...maybe she doesn't really know what the word "past" means.

So here is what I did:
I lined up five stuffed animals in a row.  As I walked past a short distance I would look back at each animal and say, "I'm past the zebra. I'm past the lion...and so forth."

Then I had her repeat the walk and say when she had past each animal.  Suddenly she said, "Oh, that's why you say the number that the short hand has already gone by." 

Then I gave her a "Hour Hand" made out of a paint stick.   Each time she was halfway between two animals, she was directed to say, " I'm half past the name of animal."  Together these activities made it all click for her. 

By the way, she also told me that "half past" and "thirty" mean the same thing, AND THAT PUT A BIG SMILE ON MY FACE!


Monday, November 11, 2013

November Ten Frames Demonstration Cards

I made these special "Scarecrow Demonstration Ten Frames" for you from 1-20.

These are some examples of the demonstration 10 Frame Cards.

If you download a copy for yourself HERE, please leave a comment that explains
one way that you plan to use them.  I am hoping to generate a list of different ways teachers are using 10 frames in their classroom.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Frames and Arrows Template from Everyday Math

Frames and Arrows are the beginning of a Function Table.

 The student is applying the "rule."  To me the big important idea is the fact that the number is "changing"  to fit the rule or mathematicians would say that they have a relationship.
  So when I introduce the rule, I start be making it a concrete experience.

I start with a large mat that I traced onto a piece of vinyl fabric or rolled bulletin board paper, using an overhead projector. This is the image that is traced:

The student steps on the mat at the "In" and is wearing a coat.  The rule is: Add 1 mitten.
Therefore, when they step out of the rule box they now have a coat + 1 mitten on.

  The next student steps into the rule box one the "In" and is given the rule. The rule is: Add 1 hat.
  Therefore, when they step out of the rule box they now have a coat + 1 hat.

A Class discussion follows ABOUT HOW THE RULE EFFECTS THE STUDENT WHEN THEY ENTER THE IN AND EXIT THE OUT. The effect is not always the same.

Next, I have the student with the coat + 1 mitten enter the "In" and receive the +1 mitten rule. I ask the students to predict what will happen  when the student steps "Out" of the box. 
 The student will have 1 coat and 2 mittens.

The next student with 1 coat + 1 Hat enters into the box and receives the rule +1 mitten.
Next, the students predict what will happen.
The student will have 1 coat, 1 hat, and 1 mitten.

Now introduce a mat that looks like this:
The rule is add 1 mitten.
Begin by drawing a picture of 1 mitten over the top of each arrow.

Student stands on the first box with 0 mittens.
The second box= student with 1 mitten.
The third box = student with 2 mittens.
The fourth box = student with 3 mittens.
The last box = student with 4 mittens.

Next make the rule +2
Begin by drawing "+2" over the top of each arrow.

Student stands on the first box with a dry erase board on which you have written "3".
The second box = erase 3 and write the number 5.
Ask the students why they think that you changed the number from 3 to 5.
The third box = erase 5 and write the number 7.
Ask the students why they think that you changed the number from 5 to 7. 
(You applied the rule of +2 )
Continue onto the fourth and fifth boxes.

Now you have taken an abstract template and made it understandable to your students.  

In First Grade, you might leave the words "in and out," or if your students are ready, you can add...

 input and output

So what do you think about my idea to make the frames and arrow template more understandable?
Please share your thoughts.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Money and the November Calendar Routine

Here is my suggestion for calendar time for the month of November:  Create a pattern of coins. 
As each new coin is introduced, a new piece of information can be discuss about that particular coin. I used plastic money and just double-stick taped it to the laminated calendar.

As different information is discussed about each coin, an anchor chart can be created like this one from First Grade Parade blog:


So what do you think about my idea?  Leave a comment...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Even and Odd

Why do many teachers only teach examples of even and odd numbers, and not properties of even and odd numbers?

What do I mean?  Well, this is what I discussed with a 1st Grade Student when the only thing she could tell me about even and odd numbers was:
Even is 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10
Odd is 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9
And that's all....

First, we built models of the numbers 1 through 10

Then I asked her 2 separate the models into 2 groups that were alike in some way.

This is how she separated the models.  When I asked her what she noticed about the two groups, and she noted this on the models:

"This group doesn't have a partner for each part of the number
and this group does have a partner.  See, how I circled the partners."

Then we discussed how certain numbers can be divided into groups of two, and that we call those numbers Even Numbers.

We went on to talk about odd numbers too.  Since she is in a dual language class, she also wanted to write the Spanish word for even/par and odd/impar on the model.

Next, I asked her to now tell me what she knows about even and odd numbers and she wrote this:
I found it interesting that she put an arrow after the numbers and said "and on and on."  (That put a smile on my face.)

So we talked about how you look at the "on and on numbers" in the ones place to see if they are even numbers or odd numbers. 

I evaluated her knowledge by quickly using a set of teen number cards.
and asked her to classify them as even or odd numbers. 

She was correct, and we even checked our first answer to
 prove that she was correct.



Sunday, October 6, 2013


When I taught 2nd, 3rd, and even 4th Grade Classes, I was always surprised how many students could not spell the word "because."

SO..... how about changing the computer log-in password that your students must use to  "because." This just might be the perfect way to make sure all of your students learn the correct spelling of this important word. What do you think about that idea?


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Developing Number Sense: Plus 1 or 2

   In his book, "Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics," John Van de Walle states "When children count, they have no reason to reflect on the way one number is related to another. The goal is only to match number words with objects until they reach the end of the count. To learn that 6 and 8 are related by the twin relationships of "two more than" and "two less than" requires reflection on these ideas within tasks that permit counting. Counting on  (or back) one or two counts is a useful tool in constructing these ideas."
Of course, the development of this skill is also quite useful when adding 2 + 7, or 1 + 9.
 There are 36 addition facts that include the addend of 1 or 2. 
So I hope this game will help you. 
 Click HERE to take you to my Google Drive where you can download the game board.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Color Coding 100's Charts

Have you begun to use the 100's chart with your class this year? 

Remember to color code the return sweeps like this:
Why?  I personally have difficulty tracking lines of text, and I know there are students that have the same problem.  It's also hard to learn to visually sweep your eyes from 40 to 41. 
A good independent activity is to have students color code the 100's chart that they use on the back cover of their Math Journal also.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Let's Collect Some Data for Grades 1 or Multigrade 1/2

Today, my granddaughter came home from school and said, "I want to collect some data."... and of course my heart rate increased...and I said I had an idea!

I just received the book, "Spookley the Square Pumpkin Counting and Colors" by Joe Troiano.

 It isn't a deep, thoughtful book, but the reading level was just perfect for my First Grader.

I suggested that we create a chart in Word, print it out, and use tally marks to gather data about the number of pumpkins and their colors that were shown in the book.

First, let's say that First Graders can do amazing things. I set up the 2 column chart and labeled the two categories.  When it came time to list the color possibilities, My First Grader used the back portion of the book to obtain the correct spelling of each color word, and type it into the chart.  She needed a little help in learning about how to tab through a chart, but that's all!.
Here's what the completed chart looked like:

Next, we printed the page, and used tally marks to collect the data of the number of pumpkins in the book for each color. 

Here is a link to share the chart with you:

In your classroom, this chart might be completed in a small group of 3 or 4 students working together. For those teachers using Everyday Math, it works well following Lesson 1.7 Recording Tally Counts, in the First Grade book.
 It could also be used in Multigrade 1/2 Classroom as an activity during Guided Math groups.

Lastly, let me thank that First Grade Teacher that inspired my granddaughter to "collect some data." :)


Monday, September 2, 2013

Exploring Dice-Dot Patterns

The ability to quickly recognize the patterns on a die without counting each dot is important for young children.
 So today I played a game with a First Grader in which we each had 20 counters and 1 die.

The players take turns rolling the die and picking up as many counters as indicated on the die until all of the counters have been picked up. To pick up the last counter, the number on the die must match the number of counters remaining.  The first player that picks up (or slides the counters to the side of their pile) all their 20 counters is the winner.

While playing this game it is easy for the teacher to evaluate:
1) Can the child recognize the pattern on the die at a glance, or is it necessary for the child to count each dot before knowing the amount indicated on the die?
2) When counting their counters do they have one-to-one correspondence, and do they count using the correct sequence?

When we played the game the second time, I counted out my counters by two's instead of by ones. The First Grader followed my lead by counting her counters by two's also. So I learned something new about her again... that not only could she count by two's but she had the ability to utilize that pattern when picking up (or sliding over) her counters. To count out the number of 5, she slid the counters in this way:  2,2,1.


I told the student that I wanted to know what she already knew about the patterns on dice.  I gave her 6 post-it notes and asked her to draw the pattern for each number on the post-it notes.  This is what she drew:
When I looked at  the post-it notes I could tell that the student had internalized the 6 patterns on the die, and could  tell you immediately without counting the value of each pattern.
If I was saving evidence of learning, I could save the six post-it notes, or a photo of her work.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Gosh, I Like that 0-99's Chart!

Last night I started thinking about all the time I spent working with that 100's chart... and I now really  like the 0-99 chart better.  As I researched the 0-99's chart on the web, I came across a post by Jessica Boschen on her blog, What I Have Learned, that featured this idea:

She made the chart make even more sense!!!!!  Look how this 3D Chart illustrates the continuation of the pattern. 

She also made the 0-99's chart forward and backward in 2 different sizes that you can download for free from her blog

Then I started thinking of making the chart up in two colors to designate even and odd numbers...

That lead me to start thinking about
Maybe this is even better.... because it features the chart extending to 100.... all the way to 109.
This would be a great differentiation tool for that child that is ready for the next step.

By the way, have you seen this trick of using 2 congruent plastic cups and labeling each from 0 - 9?
This is a great manipulative to assist students in seeing that repeating pattern too.

Lastly, I need to stop thinking about numbers and go back to bed as it is 2:40 am  :) Good night.


Using the 0 - 99's Chart Instead of the Traditional 100's Chart

In Everyday Math they use a 100's chart to develop number sense.
Yet as I was looking at some Common Core Activities from the Georgia State site, I noticed that they used a 99's chart.

I actually like it better because I believe the way the
 numbers line up would be easier for young children to comprehend.
See how the rows begin with the next tens.  Wouldn't it make it easier for students to see the pattern with the new tens place beginning the row instead of ending the previous row?
What do you think? 


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Educational Field Trips and Kindness Jars

I was just in Wilson, North Carolina, at Deans Farm Market, working with a farmer  to improve the educational experiences that students obtain when they come to his farm for a field trip.  It was refreshing to work with a farmer and Marketing Director that didn't want a "jumping pillow" pumpkin to attract customers, but wanted a program that has connections back to the classroom and the Common Core Standards.

I developed 3 connecting lesson plans for each grade level, with all the supporting student materials, for Kindergarten thru Second Grade. Some of the lessons can be done at the farm, and some are a follow-up lesson back in the classroom. An example of an activity that can be done at the farm is "Graphing Using a Giant 3 by 10 Grid" that can be used to create a Human Graph.

In addition, they plan to read the book, The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin, which promotes anti-bullying, kindness, and perseverance.

 The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin

Spookley, the Pumpkin is different, and all the other pumpkins tease him. Then Spookley proves that being different can save the day!
To go along with this book,, we created a behavior management connection, featuring "a Kindness Jar" or
 " I Can Do It! Jar."

Here's a sneak peek of one of the items we created...

It was a great trip, and if you visit there to go on a hayride, field trip, or to make a scarecrow with the
" Make and Take Scarecrow Workshop"  tell them that ...Deborah sent you!

Happy Fall Ya"ll
 North Carolina

Thursday, August 8, 2013

What Should a 3rd Grader Learn Verus a 4th Grader?

Easy Question.......................................
Take time to understand the expectations of a 3rd Grader and a 4th Grade using the Common Core Standards.

Since learning standards are expressed in a progression of learning, you can clearly identify what each grade level concepts should be mastered.
I expect a 3rd Grader to be able to...
At 4th Grade, they should also be able to ...

  Let the Common Core Standards help you to define the differences of your expectations, versus
 "This is what I think you should know."

For example, the Common Core Committee defined what math skills students should be fluent in from Grades K to 7 in a Document titled, "Model Content Frameworks for Mathematics."

In Third Grade
3.OA.7Students fluently multiply and divide within 100. By the end of grade 3, they know all products of two one-digit numbers from memory.
3.NBT.2Students fluently add and subtract within 1000 using strategies and algorithms based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction. (Although 3.OA.7 and 3.NBT.2 are both fluency standards, these two standards do not represent equal investments of time in grade 3. Note that students in grade 2 were already adding and subtracting within 1000, just not fluently. That makes 3.NBT.2 a relatively small and incremental expectation. By contrast, multiplication and division are new in grade 3, and meeting the multiplication and division fluency standard 3.OA.7 with understanding is a major portion of students’ work in grade 3.)

In Fourth Grade
4.NBT.4Students fluently add and subtract multidigit whole numbers using the standard algorithm.
In Fifth Grade
5.NBT.5Students fluently multiply multidigit whole numbers using the standard algorithm.
I plan to do more specific posts with examples to explain how to use the Common Core Standards to guide your instruction, because I know you worry about doing your best for your multi- grade class.

Understanding Your Concerns,

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Morning Meeting to Create a Sense of Community

Yesterday, Antionette commented, "
I have taught a split classroom two different years. I decided both years to not group them by grade level because I didn't want my class to feel divided. I wanted to create a community in which we acted as one. It worked really well I think. I have seen it both ways though. 
Her comment reminded me about
Morning Meeting.
 One strategy that I've seen used to increase this sense of community was "Morning Meeting" from Responsive Classroom.  
What about a meeting that answered questions like:
"One of my strengths when working with a partner is..."
"When I work with a partner on a project, I always ____ so we both contribute to the final project."
"My partner knows that I am listening to their ideas about our project when I ..."
"Today, we are going to practice listening to a partner. I'll give an idea to you, and then you repeat it back to me. Here's a good sentence opener: "I heard you say ....."
I'll always remember an interview that I saw with Lee Iacocca, the businessman who in 1980 revived the Chrysler Corporation.
He said that he hired employees that know how to work together in small groups or with a partner. He believed that when ideas are discussed and refined, the quality of those ideas increase.
 Partners see new ideas.   .

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Do I Seat All the Student in One Grade Level Together?

If you are like me, by the end of the first week of school you will be asking yourself.... "Is that girl a third grader or a fourth grader?"

So, if you really want to know the answer to this question, put all the 3rd graders together in one section of your room and all the 4th Graders together in another section of your room.

Otherwise you might not know the difference...especially if you look at students through glasses that group students by their ability instead of their age.

Understanding your concern,
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