Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Greedy Triangle

\Last year I posted about an activity we did after reading The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns.  Well, it was so much fun last year that we just had to do it again today!  
One of my teammates had the great idea for the kiddos to make the shapes from the book with geo-boards... oh my goodness... it make the book EVEN better than before!  So, my students sat at the carpet, geoboards in hand, ready to become shape-shifters!!  We paused throughout the book and made every shape that the triangle turned into.
Afterwards, my students chose one shape to create on their geoboard first, and then replicated that shape using construction paper.  We gave the shapes human-characteristics just for fun :)
Each student shared their shape and description with the class.  After sharing, we added all of our new shapes to the chart!  Here are some of my favorites:

Talk about fun and interactive!!  They were creating, describing, and extending their learning from the week.  This, my friends, is not just cutesy fluff stuff... this is kid work on display!  Sure, you could do a shape worksheet and count sides and vertices all day long, or you could CREATE a shape with your own hands :)
Happy Thursday!  Only one more day until Thanksgiving Break!!  YAHOO!!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

We Are Thankful!!!

Today I pretty much threw out my ELA plans and decided to focus on being thankful.  After writing our Santa letters yesterday and asking for SOOOO much stuff, I decided we could all reflect on the great things and people we already have in our lives.  Sometimes it is just good to go with the flow and wing a lesson... it makes my teacher heart happy and full!!! 

We read a Thanksgiving book about being thankful and charted lots of things we are thankful for!
Then, I used Cara's turkey craft (that's free I might add!!) and had my students write what they are thankful for on the feathers.
We made these into hats!  I reduced the size of the turkeys so they would fit perfectly on a sentence strip :)
 My students look all kinds of festive in their colorful turkey hats.  Here you can see my sweet little turkeys... one of my students earned the chance to read to our class.  It was precious and priceless and perfect!
And, as promised, I have updated another unit... my Shapin' Up pack!  I added tons of printables, flapbooks, and more!  So, if you have already purchased, please go redownload (and then ignore my previous version because it was all kinds of pathetic!!!)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Santa Letter Writing Process!

If you are the kind of person who doesn't like to talk about Christmas until after Thanksgiving, I'm going to need you to look away right about now!!!  I used to be like you, but I've changed in my old age, ha!  

Really and truly I would never normally start doing anything Christmas-y until after the Thanksgiving break.  We do have three whole weeks to enjoy Christmas once we return, so I like to have all that fun during those fifteen days :)  BUT, our local paper publishes Santa letters for K-2 students for our entire district.  This year the deadline to turn them in is November 21st!  They normally at least give us a date in December, but not this year!!!  The deadline is entirely too early, but it doesn't really matter because I don't want my class left out.  So, today we sat down and got to business!  By the end of the day I had 40 Santa letters ready to go (because I get to enjoy this lovely process with two classes!!)
We started pre-writing yesterday... just to get our minds thinking about our Christmas wishes.  I used this pre-writing paper that you can pick up here (for free).
The first thing we did today was start writing our rough drafts.  I do not EVER mark up writing like this.  Santa letters are the ONE and ONLY time that I use a red pen.  I know it looks mean and awful, but I have to type all of the letters once they are complete, so I really need minimal mistakes in order for me to get them done quickly!!!  Before writing we do discuss the fact that we shouldn't just start begging for presents right off the bat.  I always tell my students to butter Santa up before they spat off their wish list :)  We normally use this as our format...1.  Nice, opening sentence 2.  Ask a friendly question 3.  Tell what you'd like for Christmas 4.  Ask another question 5.  Best wishes, closing statement
I have letters of all lengths and sizes when the day is over.  Some students write 3-4 pages, while some only write half a page, and I am totally fine with that!  

 All of my students this year (and most years) celebrate Christmas, so I hardly ever have to worry about kids who can't write letters like this.  I do have a few who don't do Santa at their house, so they address their letters to their mom and dads, or whoever does the shopping :)  We just keep it on the down-low and don't spoil it for everyone else :)  I've even had some students address their letters to God, which is perfectly precious in my book! 
 The Santa templates are in my Christmas Craze unit.  I've done this same letter format for several years and it still seems to work!  Now, we can focus on Thanksgiving again... phew!  One thing at a time :)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Let's Learn About Shapes!

Hey y'all!  Today is a HAPPY day and even a HAPPY Monday because we only have four days until Thanksgiving break around here!  Yes, it's still freezing (it even snowed a little last night... have I mentioned I live in North Texas...and it snowed mid-November!!!) and we are still restless, but life must go on!
Today we started our 2D shape unit with a bang!!!  I'm not going to lie... I was all kinds of ready to take a break from counting coins.  We will continue to review during math stations and small group, but our brains needed a breather!!

Here's a little chart I made to keep up in my classroom throughout our shape learning (ignore my crooked handwriting!!)
 I do like to expose my students to lots of shapes... even if we don't focus on every single one of them :)
After discussing and reviewing my students practiced drawing some of the new shapes in our math spirals that we learned today.  They definitely felt like big kids with all this new vocabulary!
 Then, we made our Shape Turkeys!  They absolutely LOVED these!  I added this to my Let's Be Thankful unit so if you've purchased it in the past, make sure you go re-download!


 My goal is to update my Shapin' Up unit this week... give it a little makeover and add new activities to it, so be on the look-out for that!  Until then, have a happy week!!! And remember, a holiday is right around the corner :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What We're Up To Wednesday!

Well, it's Wednesday, which means we are MORE than half way through the week.  I was a farmer for career day today... Too bad the hat and braids gave me a headache.  By the end of the day I just looked like a really oddly dressed teacher with overalls on.  But, I tried!
The temperatures have dropped here in a BIG way, so we are stuck inside... which makes for a LLLOOOONNNNGGGG week!  I don't know how you people up north do it!!!

I knew that my students would not be able to handle ANY down-time today.  So, I jam-packed our day with lots of activities!

In math, my students made piggy banks to total their coins.  They really enjoyed decorating their little pigs... and I always love seeing the variety when they are finished!  You can get the piggy bank freebie HERE!  We used the printable coins from my money unit.
 Lots of colorful piggies!
We also did a little money word problem hunt with our partners.  The moving around the classroom really helped us stay active (with a purpose!)
We are also still working on identifying the main idea and details.  My students always love making these little hamburgers :)
 During reading groups, we read short stories and used a hand print to organize our main idea and details.  Afterwards, we glued these into our ELA spirals :)

 And, since it's so cold outside, we might as well bring a little Christmas cheer to the inside!  My little family decorated for Christmas last night.  It's pretty early, but we LOVE the Christmas season, so we drag it out as long as possible!!!
Now I'm off to Hobby Lobby (in my overalls...lovely!) to buy a few more things so I can put on the finishing touches :)  Happy Wednesday, friends!!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Do you Kahoot?

Do you Kahoot?!  My sweet friend, Hope, shared this website with me.  I'm sure I've seen it before, but I must have forgotten about it!  It's a great way for students to interact with your lessons through quizzes, surveys, and discussions.  I decided to give it a go to review counting coins this week.  I made 20 questions (that have now been added to my It's All The About Money unit!) and uploaded them into a Kahoot!  My students absolutely LOVE it!  They are asking to Kahoot all the time now :)

You can also just type in the questions... you don't have to add images :)
Thankfully I have a few iPads and student computers, so I was able to put my students into groups of 2-3 so they could answer the questions.  You do need some sort of device for them to answer on, or you could always use your phone and answer as a class :)
 After our Kahoot, we played Spin and Total.  I made four different coin spinners of various levels so I could differentiate with my class.  This was also a class favorite!  (This has been added to my money unit)

To top off our coin activities for the day, we made our Coin Pocket Books.  This was a great way to bring down the level of excitement from the Kahoot and spinners, but still keep my students engaged while doing their independent work!
 I love things like this because we covered more than one concept!  We counted coins AND compared numbers... killing two birds with one stone!
 I did add quite a few activities to my money unit, so if you have already purchased it, make sure you go and download the new version!
Hope you have a Happy Tuesday.  It's time for me to deck the halls and get my house all ready for Christmas... that's totally happening tonight :)  Who cares if it's only November 11th?!!

Monday, November 10, 2014

I'm done, now what?

Since this is only my second year to incorporate math stations into my math block, I'm constantly revamping and reorganizing so that we make the most of our time.  You really only know what works by trial and error.  And, even though I'm in my ninth year of teaching, I am always changing up the way I do things.  I get "lightbulb" moments (normally while trying to go to sleep or in the middle of a conversation I'm supposed to be paying attention to!) that make me think "why haven't I thought of that yet?!"

Up until this week, when my students finish their math... whether it be independent or math station work, they have either been reading, working on counting to 1,000, or making thoughtful creations playing with pattern blocks.  I knew this time could be utilized better, I just wasn't sure how to fix it.

So, this weekend I did a little shopping at Mardel to get my early math finisher tubs all ready to go.  I love for my students to read any chance they get, but there are so many math skills that need to be refined... so we needed to target those!  AND, it just makes sense to continue practicing MATH during our MATH block!
You can find the buckets HERE, numbers HERE, and Smart Pals HERE

Here's what is inside each early finisher bucket... 
Dominoes HERE

Jumbo Number Magnets HERE

Coin Stamps HERE

Dice HERE

Spinners HERE

My recording sheets are not fancy, but you are more than welcome to them!  You can get those for FREE {here}!  I have lots of other ideas for when these get old and boring.  We will use our magnetic coins, number bean bags, a deck of cards, number stamps, and more!  Gotta keep things fresh and updated so my little learners are engaged!

What do you use for early finisher activities?  I'd love to hear below!