Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Who Am I?

I don't know about your kiddos but mine LOVE pictures of their teacher especially when the teacher was a kid like them. I guess it helps them connect to you. I'm not that keen about flashing my mug shots around but if it pleases and helps my kids feel connected I'll do it.

One of my favorite things to do on the first day of school is introduce myself to my little darlings. To do so, I read a book about myself that I wrote. It's a very simple little book that I made on the computer in word before I knew anything about publisher. I uploaded some pictures and added some text. I bound it with the plastic comb binder. It's pretty 'Mickey Mouse' but my kiddos love it. It's an easy enough text that most of my firsties can read it. Their favorite part is the picture of me when I was in first grade. It's the one on the cover page. Here's a few of the pages from my book. It's about 12 pages long.
I leave it in our class library for most of the year. I love to refer to it when I'm teaching about writing and becoming authors. It's also my springboard for autobiographies and biographies.

We also play a little game on the first day after we read this fun book.
The game is called, 'Don't Eat Mrs. Peterson'!
Again, I made this on the computer by uploading some of my 'YOUTHFUL' pictures.
It's a fun one to play on the first day. I put the kids in groups of 3-4. They place a small candy like Skittles or M&Ms on every square. Then one player turns around and covers his eyes while the rest of the group chooses a square to be 'IT'. Then he turns around and starts taking the candy pieces off each of the squares. When he touches the candy on the square that is 'it', the other players yell "Don't Eat Mrs. Peterson". Then his turn is over. He gets to keep all the candies he earned. Players take turns. I let my kids play for a certain amount of time. They LOVE it!

What do you do to introduce yourself to your class?
I'd love to hear about it.

P.S. Don't forget you can now follow me on facebook by clicking HERE

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Number Lines and Counting Lines Part 2

Yesterday I wrote about my 'aha' to the importance of number lines as an effective tool in math. You can read that post HERE.

So what.......... now?
My first question is what do I call it- a number line or counting line? I Goggled counting line and counting paths, I didn't get much, just tallies and things to count. It's like borrowing in subtraction. The correct term is regrouping. But if you call it that most parents don't know what you're talking about. I don't want to get too technical and confuse my little ones. So for now it's a  number line.

My next question is how can I use the number line as a more effective math tool?
I loved the quote in an article by Kathy Jones that said, "the more linear a child's mental number line becomes with time, the better he or she is at remembering numbers." Isn't that the main focus in first grade- remembering numbers aka NUMBER sense? 
I like to start off with a very concrete number line.
I have one of these and I love it. You can get it on Amazon.com HERE.
It's a vinyl, step-by-step, walk-on number line 1-20. It comes with suggested activities and your kiddos will love it. I have my kids count forwards and backwards on it. We also do addition and subtraction as well as greater and less than.

It's also fun to go outside with sidewalk chalk and draw your own number lines.
I found this great site with cool activities you can do with the number line. It's on eHow Mom. Click HERE.
Another great number line you can buy is this one from Lakeshore.
Number Line Math Activity Chart
It's great for teaching addition and subtraction.
I also use rulers for addition and subtraction. It's very concrete. I have to be careful though that it doesn't become a crutch.

My kids need to become familiar with the number line by doing LOTS of practicing with it. So I put together a little packet with 6 activities. There are fun task cards where the kiddos have to find certain numbers on the number line or do different tasks. They can be a springboard for students to make up their own task cards too. They also put together a number line. You can use part or all of the number line and it goes to 120. You can check it out. Just go to my sidebar where my shop links are and click.

So what...... now?
I think it's time for a GIVEAWAY! I haven't done one in a while.
If you are one of the first 3 to comment on this post, I will give you my Number Line FUN packet. Don't forget to leave your email address.

Hey, I'd LOVE to hear how you teach and use the number line. I'm always looking for new ideas.
Thanks everyone for stopping by!

P.S. I'm now on Facebook. I'd LOVE you to follow me! HERE

Monday, June 17, 2013

Number Lines and Counting Lines Part 1

Number lines have been around forever. My teachers had a BIG one displayed at the front of the room and often a smaller one on everyone's desk. But I can't really remember ever being taught how to use it or if I even used it for that fact. Likewise, I've had them in my room and referred to them. I've shown the kids how to add and subtract on them. But to tell you the truth, it's just been another math tool the kids could use if they wanted to.
Not any more!
Some of you may be WAY ahead of me on this subject but I've been doing a little research on number lines and here's what I've found:

  • Number lines are one of the most over looked tools in the classroom. When used properly it can help students improve number sense, operational proficiency, mental arithmetic, understand number relationships, and the position of numbers.
  • In the Common Core, number lines are introduce in 2nd grade. (2.MD.6)
  • The first way children encounter 'number lines' is as a line or row of numbers. This is NOT really a number line but is VERY useful and is called 'counting lines'. Some call it 'counting paths'.
  • There are important differences between number lines and counting lines that PreK, K, and 1st grade teachers need to understand.
  • Making a careful transition from counting lines to number lines is important. Number lines are not based on counting, but on measuring from a fixed point.
  • The fixed point or origin is 0. The number that labels every point is the distance from the origin to that point. 
  • A counting line does not have zero. So you can't show 5-5=0.
  • Counting lines cannot show fractions or decimals or negative numbers.
My big 'AHA' was that in first grade, I'm not teaching number lines but I'm teaching COUNTING LINES and I'd better do it right so they can make the transition to number lines in 2nd grade!

This is an example of a counting line.

This is an example of a number line.

I found these great articles. You might want to take a look. (They are pretty short, not BIG research papers to muddle through.)





So what...? My daughter taught me that. She says, whenever she learns something new, she asks herself  "so what...should I do with this new piece of information? So what... should I change? So what... am I going to do differently? (Don't you LOVE it when your children become so wise and can teach YOU things!)

I don't want to make this post really LOOOOONG. So this is part one.
Come back tomorrow for my SO WHAT!!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Hi everyone! I hope you're enjoying summer as much as I am. I love being on my own clock! I can get up when I want, eat when I want, go where I want, but most of all, go to the bathroom when I want! Don't get me wrong, I love teaching but summer vacation is WONDERFUL!!!
I've been getting caught up a some of my shop packets. I just posted 2 new ones.
 This one is a fun addition game called Roll Add Color. There are 12 different game sheets that you play with different dice. It practices adding to 12, 15, 18, and with 3 addends. 
Find a Friend Reading Version is one my kiddos LOVE! This packet has 22 different skill sheets. It covers, vowels, blends, digraphs, r-controlled vowels, contractions, compound words, synonyms and antonyms, sounds of ED and Y, sight words etc. It's a companion to the Find a Friend Math Version. I blogged about it  HERE with a free sample.
They are both VERY EASY PREP! Just print and have fun! They are great for a sub or fast time fillers.
Here's a FREE Sample!
Just click on the picture to download.

I hope you'll check them out at my shops. Just click on my sidebar.
Enjoy your summer. It's going by way too fast!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Find a Friend FREEBIE

I just got back from a very fun, relaxing trip to the beautiful Utah mountains! It was so nice to get away and enjoy the outdoors with all the family.

I just finished a fun little packet called Find a Friend. My kiddos LOVE this activity so I made several of them for different math skills. The kids go around the room finding a different friend to answer each problem. There are 17 different first grade math skills included from shapes, fractions, clocks, addition, subtraction, tally marks, 10 more and 10 less, to place value and more.
If you'd like to try one with your firsties you can download a copy for free. This one is practice with counting on.
Just click the picture to download.
You can find the packet in my shops. Just check out the side bar on this blog. I hope your students like it as much as mine!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Fraction Packet

FINALLY! It is finished. I needed my summer to get the fraction packet completed. It's up on the shops. You can click on my side bar for a direct link. I hope you'll check it out.
There are some fun activities including a scoot game, find a friend, cube train activity, sort, matching, and some fun practice sheets.
A while back I blogged about it and offered a freebie from the packet. You can get it HERE.

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer or about to enjoy their summer. I'm done with district training and ready for the mountains and a little relaxation!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Organizing My Books

This year I finally got my books organized. I have so many books and it's been hard to find bins big enough to hold them all but Ikea finally helped me solve the problem.
This was my book bins before:
The bins weren't big enough to hold all the books. I hated how messy it looked.
Here is after:
I found these great bins that fit perfect on my book shelves at Ikea for about $2.50 each. They are big and can hold LOTS of books! The lids were extra. I love the lids though, because sometimes I get preschoolers in my room with their moms and they love to go through my books. Then I find them all over my room and sometimes not in the best of shape. With the lids, it's like 'out of sight-out of mind'. My room also gets really dusty and this helps keep my books cleaner.
Each bin is labeled with the level and picture of the sticker that is on each book.
I patterned my leveling system after Sharon Taberski method outlined in her book called "On Solid Ground". My books are leveled into 4 colored groups: 
Emergent: pink 1 is level A, pink 2 is B, pink 3 is C.
Early: yellow 1 is D, yellow 2 is E, yellow 3 is F.
Transitional: orange 1 is G, orange 2 is H, orange 3 is I.
Fluent: green 1 is J, green 2 is K, and green 3 is L.

I don't do my shopping like the profession books say you're supposed to. I know shame on me but this is what works best for me. I'm a little bit of a control freak I guess. My kids shop for books every Friday during Read to Self in Daily 5. Each student is assigned a bin. They trade 10-12 books for 10-12 new ones. They'll have these books in their book bags for the coming week. I encourage them to read each book several times during Read to Self and Read to Someone and discuss the strategies with their partners. They also practice fluency. I also check in with them during the week and listen to them read a few of the books to make sure they are just right. When I move the kids up in guided reading I change their bin. I usually have them in a bin that is one level below their guided reading level. So if Sally is reading in guided reading on an E, she is assigned to the D bin. You're probably wondering if I teach my kids about choosing 'Just Right Books'. Yes, I do teach them and several times they will come to me and say a book is not just right and they can trade it for another one because all the books in the bin are not an exact D or G level. I have been using this system for several years and it works really well for me. 

The only problem is you need to have LOTS of books in your bins. I have probably 100+ books in most of the bins. I collect them from several publishers. My favorites are Scholastic Book Clubs, MaryRuth Books, Pioneer Valley Books, Bruce Larkin Wilbooks, Fountas & Pinnell Take-Home Books just to name a few.

Another organizing thing I did this year was to organize all my genre books. I have baskets with different genres that my kids can choose to read from at different times during the day. Again, Ikea solved my problem.
I found these great shelves and boxes. Each box is filled with various genres of books stored in them. You can't see it in the picture but there are labels on the sides. My kiddos don't touch these boxes. They aren't as sturdy as the plastic ones mention above. This is only storage. I take the books out I want them to use and put them in the genre baskets and I forgot to take a picture of one of the baskets- sorry! I rotate the books about every month. It helps keep their interest and they don't get bored with the same old books.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you found something that can help you in your classroom.
If you have any questions or comments I'd love to hear from you.