MLK Jr. Research {& some math!}

Our current literacy unit is informational text. The kids are reading about real people, real places, and real things. With all of this, we are summarizing! The kids are turning into real pro’s. They identify the topic of the text and then find details about that topic.

For the past couple of weeks, we have been focusing on Martin Luther King Jr. We’ve been reading, researching and learning all about him.

When we started this topic, the first thing we did was make a Circle Map. A Circle Map is a wonderful way to gather student’s knowledge before you start a topic. It gives the teacher insight into what they already know and what ideas they might not understand. The kiddo’s initial ideas were so great!

They worked in their table teams (teams of 4) to write one fact they already knew about Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Post it's

Post it’s

 

Post it's

Post it’s

Post it's

Post it’s

{As a first grade teacher, this is easy for me to read. But for others, let me translate- Martin wanted everyone to be together} 🙂

Aren’t these the best? We put them together on a Circle Map.

Pre Knowledge Circle Map

Pre Knowledge Circle Map

The cool thing about doing it on post-it’s is that as our unit progressed, we kept adding more post-it’s. We used different colors each time we added more, so that by the end of the unit, we had a wonderful map that showed everything we’d learned!

Another fun way that we learned more about MLK Jr. was by researching him using the kid-safe search engine KidRex. If you haven’t heard of it, you should really check it out!

KidRex

KidRex

Just go to www.kidrex.org. It’s a filtered search engine for kids. KEEP IN MIND- You should always monitor kids searching anything on-line, but I’ve only had great experiences using this with my kids.

KidRex

KidRex

KidRex

KidRex

KidRex

KidRex

I love allowing my kids to learn more by researching and reading things themselves. The more we do this type of research, the better my kids get at it.

The first times you have first graders search something, they are mostly just clicking pages and looking at pictures. But by now, my kids are really reading some of the facts they see and sharing what they find with the others around them. It’s really awesome to see them start this journey in their education, it’s such a skill they will need as they get older!

And going back to the Circle Map, as they found new facts, we wrote them on post-it’s to add to our knowledge!

Subtraction Games

I just wanted to mention a SIMPLE, QUICK game to practice subtraction. I’m always looking for fun and simple ways for my kids to have hands-on ways to practice the skills we are learning. Sometimes you just don’t have the time to get together a bunch of materials when you only have 20 minutes to play something.

I was looking at the materials I had ready and came up with an easy game that helped reinforce the idea that subtraction means to take something away. After six years of teaching first grade, I’ve always found that some of my kids still struggle with the difference between addition and subtraction. I wanted them to really understand that when we subtract, we take things away.

Subtraction Game

Subtraction Game

All you need for this game is a cup with counters inside and dice. My kids worked in partners, each pair getting a cup with 20 counters and a die.

To start the game, each kid takes 10 counters {this number could be adjusted up to as high as you’d like}. They take turns rolling the die. Whatever number they roll, they have to put that many back inside the cup.

Subtraction Game

Subtraction Game

In essence, each roll is a “subtraction”. They have to take away from their own counters and put them in the cup. Their pile is getting smaller- the main idea of what it means to subtract.

The kids play until one of them runs out of counters. Then, they start over.

And do you want to know something? THEY. LOVED. THIS. GAME.

We played it for 3 days in a row {using larger amounts of counter chips} because they were BEGGING to play.

Subtraction Game

Subtraction Game

Subtraction Game

Subtraction Game

We only played in small time segments, but a great way to kick this game up a notch would be to have them write the subtraction sentence each time they roll. So if they start with 10 counters and roll a 3, they could write 10 – 3 = 7.

Subtraction Game

Subtraction Game

Subtraction Game

Subtraction Game

I just wanted to share because it was an amazing game. Not only was it simple to set up, but the kids loved it and it truly enforced the idea of subtraction!

Thanks for checking into our adventure! Be sure to come back soon!

Comparing Numbers {Using Cards!}

 

Elfie!

Elfie!

 

I mean…. this might be the best sweater I’ve ever seen. We have a spirit week coming up and one of the day is “Holiday Sweater Day”. I found this sweater at JC Penney’s and I  dragged  had my husband go check it out with me. I LOVE it and can’t wait to wear it next week!

Cards for Comparing Numbers

Cards for Comparing Numbers

A few weeks ago, one of our WONDERFUL class volunteers donated a bunch of playing card packs to our classroom. There are so many things you can do with cards, but since we are working on comparing numbers, I thought of a simple {and fun} game to help us practice this skill!

Cards for Comparing Numbers

Cards for Comparing Numbers

The game was simple. The kids put the deck of cards in the middle of them and then took turns pulling two cards each. They used the cards to form a two digit number. In the above picture, you can see he pulled a 6 and a 4, making the numbers 64.

Cards for Comparing Numbers

Cards for Comparing Numbers

After they’ve both made a number, they compared them. The student who had the GREATER number got to take all 4 cards. The student who had the most cards when the deck ran out was the winner!

Cards for Comparing Numbers

Cards for Comparing Numbers

We didn’t use any of the face cards, or the 10 card. You could use the ten to make larger numbers and you could give the face cards a value.

There are lots of ways to differentiate this game. On Monday, we will play this again, but this time, they will win if they had the “less than” number. You could also have the kids pull two cards and arrange them either way to try to win.  I had my kids put their cards in the order they pulled them. So if they pulled a 6 first and then a 4, they made 64. But you could have them decide where to put each number to form a number that would win. {i.e. They could form 64 or 46 with their cards to try to win the game}

It was really fun for them, simple to play, and helped them practice the skill of comparing numbers!

 

 

Room Walk-Through, Desk Re-Do, and 3-D Marshmallow Shapes

Hello party people!  It’s Thursday around here, a Thursday afternoon with 9 days left of school! A lot has been going on, in and out of school. For starters, here has been my latest project.

Plain Desk

Plain Desk

I found this old desk at a local thrift store. It was not looking great. But, it was $9.00. Which is seriously the price of my Starbucks in the morning. A whole desk for nine dollars? Yes please.

I convinced the husband to go to the store with me and help me get it home. He was less than impressed with it’s condition. I promised him that I could change it! Thanks to Pinterest (of course) I’ve been wanting to re-do some furniture, because I keep seeing amazing trash to treasure examples!

We also went by Menards and visited the section in the paint department where they have extra or left-over paint for cheap. I picked up a quart sized can of gray paint for $10.00.

It was so expensive still because it was chalk board paint I think, but still the perfect price for this project. We also got white primer (mostly because we also needed it for another house project)

Primed White

Primed White

Step one was to paint the desk white with the primer. I did two coats of this, letting it dry fully between each coat. I didn’t sand it at all before this. Let me say again, I DIDN’T SAND IT AT ALL. Why? Mostly because the girl’s blog I read who also did this didn’t sand it either. Once you put the sealant on it, there isn’t really a need. Also, this won’t be an item in a “high traffic” area of the house (like a kitchen cabinet for example) so I’m not too worried about scratches or knicks.

Started to be Painted

Started to be Painted

The gray paint came next. It was looking better already! I also did 2 coats of this and followed up with any last minute touch-ups as I looked it over the next day.

Finally, I used a matte finish Polyurethane sealant. I did 3 coats of this over the course of a week (following the directions on the can) This provided a clear finish!

Final Product!

Final Product!

Here it is in the end! I changed out the hardware as well. I put on those three glass handles and a new silver pull handle along the top. I think it turned out great and adds so much to our guest bedroom!

3-D Solid Shapes

Last week we were learning all about 3-D, solid shapes. As part of this unit, the kids learned words like “face” and “vertex”. They also learned about the names of specific solid shapes, like cylinder, sphere, etc.

On one of the days, the kids got to make the 3-D shapes we’ve been learning about. How better to do this than with marshmallows!

The kids used tooth picks and mini marshmallows to make the shapes of the unit. They loved it- and who wouldn’t, a project that uses marshmallows screams fun!

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

I was worried the kids wouldn’t be able to make these shapes without seeing an example, but boy was I wrong! They were instant pro’s.

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

The one thing I didn’t account for was how many tooth picks we’d need! {Darn my math skills!}

I thought- foolishly- that 500 tooth picks would be plenty! I didn’t think about how many toothpicks each student would need for each shape. So basically, after everyone made a cube, there weren’t many tooth picks left to make a rectangular prism.

It worked out fine because the kids just took apart their shapes and used the tooth picks again for a new shape. But in the future, or to other teachers out there, BUY MORE tooth picks than you think! 😉

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

3-D Shapes

It turned out great and was a fun, fun way to practice our 3-D shapes. Thanks so much for checking in to our adventure. I hope you are having a wonderful end to your school year as well!

 

 

 

What Have We Been Up To in 2014?

Brrrr!

Brrrr!

To answer that question with an obvious answer- WE’VE BEEN TRYING TO KEEP WARM!

The new year has brought cold temperatures to our area and that means much of my break was spent inside, enjoying time with family and friends!

But, it’s been almost a month since I’ve blogged last. I wish I could say I was so too busy over break to take the time to write a post, but in reality, I had a lot of free time! However, it was great to take a step back, relax, and think about some other things than lesson plans! 🙂

Speaking of plans, I have been spending more time on a type of plans…

Bride and groom!

Bride and groom!

Wedding plans that is!

Today my mom and one of my sisters (and bridesmaids) joined me for a bridal showcase at the same place our wedding will be at. We walked around to the different booths, met some of our vendors, and even got that cute couple in the picture above!

Back to school, I’ve been taking lots of pictures of what we’ve been up to now that we are back in 2014! We had such a short week last week because of the 2 cold days (-50 with wind chills= way too cold for school!!!), but it wasn’t hard to get back into the swing of things.

Math Journals

Math journals

Math journals

One of the things we decided to do this year as a first grade team was to introduce math journals. While all the kids have journals in their desks, we thought it was getting confusing having them use them for both reading, writing, and math time.

Plus, we were noticing that during “writing time”, the kids used complete sentences and punctuation. And then during math tests when we were asking the students to write how they solved a problem, we saw they weren’t able to put their ideas or thoughts down into sentences. We knew we needed to incorporate more writing in math time.

So, for each math unit, we create a new math journal. The front of the journal includes vocab words for the unit and then lots and lots of writing pages.

Math journals

Math journals

Sometimes I’ll write a question on the board and the kids write responses in the journals. Sometimes the students will use the journals to reflect on what we did in math that day.

Most of the time though, the students glue in a math prompt or question that relates to the unit. They draw or write equations to solve and then write about the process below.

Math journals

Math journals

We see a lot of progress in their math writing doing this! I think it gets the kids used to the idea that writing is important for all subject areas, plus, it gets them thinking about how to explain their thinking.

I tend to use the journal either as a math intro for the lesson or as a ending wrap-up. It’s great practice for the kiddos and really deepens their math thinking.

Summarizing: Main Idea and Details

Main idea snowman

Main idea snowman

The reading skill we’ve been focusing on is summarizing. The past month was focused on sequencing, using beginning, middle, and end organizers, as well as sequencing words.

Now, we are summarizing by finding the main idea of a text or article and details that support that topic. I wanted to incorporate a weather appropriate (and cute!) way to display this- thus, the snowman! 🙂

I like making displays like this every once in a while because I can hang it in the room. It’s a great visual reminder for the kids throughout the rest of the year.

With this activity, I read a non-fiction text to the kids called “Community Helpers”, focused on people in the community and how they help us in our lives. This was a very special activity because it’s the first time the kids have ever sat with the clip boards, writing and working while also listening for a whole lesson. We usually only use the clip boards during independent/parent work around the room.

Ta-da!

Ta-da!

Maybe I think too much about the things that could go wrong in this kind of teaching scenario (pencils poking, clip boards hitting, lack of focus…. the list goes on….) 😉

But I’m very happy to report that the kids did so good working in this way! I would read a few pages at a time and the kids would help pick out the important details. Then, they’d write the detail down on their pages, while I filled it in on the snowman. By the way, the kids named him “Frosty” and loved having him in the room. 🙂

Working

Working

Marshmallow Adding

The last thing we’ve been focusing on this week was addition. The math unit we’re on is all about addition and so our days have been spent using manipulatives and objects to add and recording our work using numbers. On Pinterest, I saw an adorable project of using marshmallows to add and turning it into a hot cocoa project.

Math

Math

You know we had to do it too! The kids used dice, rolled them twice to find 2 numbers, and added them together. They used the marshmallows to help them add the numbers together. They did this several times as practice before they glued down one of their problems.

Math

Math

Math

Math

Math

Math

The projects turned out so cute and really helped sum up the unit for the kids. Plus, it was also a great little snack afterwards 🙂

Math

Math

That’s it for now! Thanks for checking back in and I’m back on track and will be posting more great lessons and activities from our room!

 

 

 

 

Counting to 120!

Hello and happy Wednesday! Whenever we don’t have school on Mondays, the week seems to go by so fast. I can’t believe it’s already the middle of the week, but here we are!

Before I dive into all the fun things we’re doing in class, here are two things I’m loving right now:

1. How silly are our puppies? I found them hanging out in our bathroom one day (when it was very hot outside) while I was working on my grad paper. They are so cute and easily distract me from working.

Molly and Juneau

Molly and Juneau

2. Over the long weekend, my fiancé and I were hard at work re-painting our deck. It needed to be redone and after looking around Menard’s, we decided to paint it 2 different colors. It was a lot of work- and took over 7 hours- but I think it turned out pretty good! What do you think?

Before and after

Before and after

Counting to 120

You’ve probably noticed many things in the homework packet about counting. That’s because our math unit for the next 4 weeks is all about counting up to 120. That means, we’re practicing reading all those numbers, writing all those numbers, and putting them all in the correct order. It also means we’re practicing starting at any number and counting on. The students are working on all of these skills!

We’re been doing many different things each day to practice these skills, but here are some of the highlights so far….

-Bat Card Counting: I found these cute bat cards on TpT that have the number written on them from 1-20. I liked them a lot because they had the number word and the numeral written. We used them in many different ways. The students held up certain numbers to practice identifying them. They also put them in order starting at different numbers, such as starting at 5 and putting them in order to 20.

We also worked in small groups to practice putting them in order starting at different numbers.

Putting the numbers in order!

Putting the numbers in order!

Which one comes next?

Which one comes next?

How cute are the cards?

How cute are the cards?

The kids were so happy they got to take those home! I hope you got the chance to use them again!

-Number Order Scoot Game: One of my favorite games to play in any subject is the “scoot” game. Basically it is any game where students do a task at a spot and when I say “Scoot!”, they move to the next spot and do the next task. I like it for 2 reasons. One, it gives them many different opportunities to practice a skill and two, it gets them moving! We do math at the end of the day, so sometimes we can be squirmy 🙂

The scoot game helps us move, learn, and have fun!

For this game, I put 10 cards at each spot. The cards had numbers on them, either 1-10, 10-20, 20-30, 30-40, and so on up to 100. It was the students job to put those cards in the correct order when they were at that spot.

Working together!

Working together!

Team work!

Team work!

They had to figure out which number came first, what came next, and keep going until they finished!

Great job!

Great job!

Working together!

Working together!

This is a great skill for them to learn. It helped build on their number understanding and practice counting on from any given number.

Good job!

Good job!

-Fill in the missing numbers worksheet: Finally, the kids moved on to partner work. They got a worksheet that showed them a row of numbers- that started at a random number- and they had to fill in the numbers that would come next. Basically, the worksheet built on the skills they had just practiced in their small groups. The students worked in partners around the room to answer the questions.

Partners

Partners

Working in partners

Working in partners

Working with a partner is a skill the students are practicing too! We learned how to help each other and not just give someone the answer. We also learned how to work at the same pace and ask your partner if they need help.

What's the missing number?

What’s the missing number?

Getting the work done!

Getting the work done!

We’ll be working on this unit for the next couple of weeks. Please practice counting at home, starting at any number, all the way up to 120! The more you practice at home, they better they will do!

Thanks for checking in! If you haven’t already, sign up with your email address along the right hand side of the blog. That way, you’ll get emails when I post new things.

ALSO- Parents, if you haven’t paid the money yet for our class monthly magazine, homework folder, and PTO, please turn in the money as soon as you can! Thank you! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr. Alligator Open Wide (and chomp, chomp, chomp!)

Please tell me someone else had that song stuck in their head all day too? Just me? 🙂

I hope the students came home singing their little hearts out of our Mr. Alligator song! It’s the perfect, silly way to remember that Mr. Alligator doesn’t eat pizza or mashed potatoes- only numbers! And at eatin’ time, he only wants to eat the number that is greater! One student said, “Wow, he must be a hungry gator!” Yes, he is!

Can you tell we’ve been learning about greater than, less than, and equal to this week? The students have all been comparing numbers using the symbols <, >, or =. On Monday, we started by reviewing the symbols and what they meant. After a quick pre-assessment, about half of the students knew the names of the symbols and could use them correctly in a number comparison sentence.

We started off with the Mr. Alligator song, which can be found here: Mr. Alligator song page and puppet. (You can download the song as an MP3)

***Update- this isn’t a page/song I’ve made myself. I found it online, which is what the above link connects to. You can can click on the below picture of the page to link to the printable. I don’t have the link for the song any longer. You could look it up on Youtube!***

 

 

 

 

 

I always print off copies of the song for the students and first, we read it together like a poem. After a couple of read throughs (and giggles), I tell them I have a surprise (at which point, their eyes get very wide and it suddenly gets quiet in the room- they LOVE surprises), and announce, “This poem is actually…… a song we can sing!” (Ok so it’s not the most exciting surprise in the world, but they do love the song, I promise! 🙂 ) We sing the song together quite a few times and then the students get to color in the little alligators in the pictures.

Song and Puppet

Song and Puppet

Next, it’s puppet making time! The link above also includes the picture for the greater than/ less than alligator puppet. You can cut it to make the puppet, but I just had the kids fold it, which worked even easier. After they fold it together, I call students over to a table, where I tape in a straw because I forgot to buy Popsicle sticks  to the inside and then tape the sides closed. (I’ve had kids glue the sides shut before, and even glue in the stick, but it never really stayed and we couldn’t use them until they dried. I’ve since found that clear tape works just fine!)

Then, it was time to practice! I wrote number sentences on the board and students had to come up and use their Mr. Alligator to compare.

27 is less than 80

27 is less than 80

The student up front becomes the “teacher” and they have to show the right answer using their puppet. Then, the “teacher” calls on a student to read the comparison, “Twenty seven is less than eighty”. If the student gets it correct, they then come up to the board, become the next “teacher”, and have to answer a new comparison question.

 

Looking for a "student" to call on

Looking for a “student” to call on

It’s a fun way to practice greater than and less than, AND helps kids remember the difference between the two symbols.

4 is greater than 1

4 is greater than 1

How is this being differentiated for my older students/students who need more of a challenge? I found that most students can compare 1 digit numbers, many can compare 2 digit numbers, but most were struggling when comparing 3 digit numbers. So, my Math Mania students/older students compared number sentences more like this:

 

3 digit number comparisons

3 digit number comparisons

You can see how we talked about looking at the first place (the hundreds place), moving on the the tens place, and finally the ones place. It’s just like putting something in ABC order, which we made a connection to. Once we started breaking down these three digit numbers, it became easier for them to compare.

Great job!

Great job!

Check back to see what else we’ve done with this topic!