Friday, July 28, 2017

Toss It! How to Actively Engage Your Students

Recently a teacher left a comment about one of my resources that had me pondering the possibilities. She was searching for "something to inspire struggling" learners. Granted, pencil and paper games and activities are certainly more motivating than practice with flash cards and worksheets but I always find incorporating physical activity into practice and review to be the bee's knees of motivation!

Imagine the pure joy exuded by a little fellow, new to our school and repeating first grade, when my co-worker and I set up a jungle walk complete with props (think river, rocks, trees, and stuffed animals) through the classroom as a review of positional concepts!

Use Toss It! to actively engage your first and second graders while adding and subtracting basic facts or two-digit numbers with multiples of ten.

Thinking along these lines, I crafted an activity, Toss It!, for practicing or reviewing adding and subtracting basic facts or multiples of ten. For the do-it-yourself version, you will need paper plates, a marker to write numbers, an object to toss, and number cards.

I chose green paper plates to represent apple trees and blue plates for ponds but you are only limited by your imagination! Dinner sized plates stayed in place better than luncheon/ dessert sized.

Be sure to try tossing your object beforehand as some will be too bouncy. Beanbags, Koosh balls, Tossimals, and balled up paper all worked well. You too may find yourself in a toy aisle tossing a few on the floor to see what happens! Lindsy at Preschool Alphabet has directions for creating felt apple beanbags.

This activity is perfect for an individual or small group of students. You can also set up multiple stations (to reduce wait time) so your whole class can participate.

Decide on the equations you want your students to practice. Since I teach facts by mental strategies this is how I did mine. Here are a few examples to get you thinking.

Actively engage your first and second graders while adding and subtracting basic facts with Toss It!

To practice the addition fact strategy of counting up (or on), use number cards 1 to 9. Pick a card. Number one or two sets of plates 1, 2, and 3. Place your plates on the floor or a table. Toss it! Use your two numbers to say or write the addition equation.

You can make this activity as physically easy or challenging as you like by changing the distance between the tosser and the plates. Also, decide if the object must land directly on a plate (or close is good enough) and the consequences if it doesn't, toss again or lose your turn. Take turns tossing.

Use number cards 3 to 12 to practice the subtraction fact strategy of counting down (or back). Pick a card. Number one or two sets of plates 1, 2, and 3. Toss it! Say or write the subtraction equation.

Actively engage your first and second graders while adding and subtracting basic facts with Toss It!

Choose any numbers between 0 and 10, label your plates, toss it and double your number to review the addition doubles. You can also say or write the corresponding subtraction doubles equation. If you teach this as halves; label your plates with even numbers between 2 and 20. Toss it! Say or write the equation to subtract half of your number.

Additionally, you can add and subtract two-digit numbers and multiples of ten. You will need a set of commercial or self-made flash cards for the numbers 11-99.

Actively engage your first and second graders while adding and subtracting multiples of ten with Toss It!

Use number cards 11 to 49 for addition. Pick one. Number your plates with multiples of ten, 10 to 50. Toss it! Say or write your numbers. Add. Substitute number cards 50 to 99 for subtraction.

You can find a complete version of Apple Tree Toss It! for adding and subtracting basic facts and multiples of ten in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

This is an apple themed addition and subtraction resource with active engagement, perfect for first and second grade math practice and review. This is a flexible resource covering basic addition and subtraction fact mental strategies and adding and subtracting two-digit numbers with multiples of ten (i.e. 38 + 40 or 50 - 20). It is designed for individual or small group use. Several stations can also be set up for a whole class activity. You choose the strategy or skill that would be most beneficial for a group of your students. $

I'd love for you to share your favorite ways to incorporate physical movement into practice and review activities in the comments below.

Check out this Pinterest board for more apple themed ideas!

Monday, June 26, 2017

How to Add a Sparkle to Summertime Learning

I don't know about you, but I'm always surprised when I think about the activities I engaged in as a child and (gasp...) survived unscathed!

The Fourth of July arrived with family cookouts, backyard games, homemade ice cream, military bands, parades, fireworks, and yes... plenty of sparklers for kids of all ages.

Add a little sparkle to summertime learning with this free American Flag Collect and Sort activity for preschool, kindergarten, and beginning first grade!
Sparkler Clip Art by SillyODesign

Monday, June 5, 2017

Make Time for Summer Learning (Free Download)


Time for listening to crickets chirp, swimming in sparkling lakes, and daydreaming.

Time for picking berries, eating a picnic lunch at the park, and running through the backyard sprinkler.

Time for making mudpies, chasing after the ice cream truck, and exploring in the woods.

Time for playing kickball in the neighborhood, catching fireflies, and lying on the grass counting stars.

Summertime gives our kids the time for all of these things and more.

Summer should also be a time for learning. Summer learning loss is a real phenomenon that unfortunately, accumulates over time. Summer learning loss in math is typically greater than reading (Why Summer Learning). Surprisingly, reading as few as four to five books over the summer can prevent this loss in reading (Do Kids Really Have "Summer Learning Loss"?).

Discover ideas for summer learning and a FREE telling time first grade math resource in this blog post!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

How to Transition From Counting All to Counting On

Are you wondering when or how to transition your students from counting all the numbers to counting on or up from the first or greater number when adding?

Counting on is typically one of the first addition fact strategies to be taught. Children progress developmentally from counting objects and fingers to counting abstractly; from counting all to counting on from the first number, then from the greater number.

Discover ideas and freebies in this post about helping your kindergarten, first, and second grade students move from counting all to counting on/ up when adding!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Down on the Farm- Activities to Improve Number Sense

I taught in rural areas of Virginia throughout my teaching career- in places where farms and cows dot the landscape; in places where kids might have intense interests in tractors, cows, or horses.

Check out this blog post for a one less one more cow themed freebie, perfect for kindergarten math!
Farm Landscape by Hola Amigos

Whether you live in the city and are teaching a unit about farms or you live in the country and you're catering to your kids' interests, I've crafted some farm themed number recognition and number sense resources for you, including a freebie, to meet the needs of your pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and early first grade students.

Monday, March 20, 2017

4 Advantages to Word Study You Should Know About

Are you stuck giving the dreaded weekly spelling test? You know- the one where a few students can already spell all the words on Monday morning and a few others can barely spell any on Friday afternoon and the carryover into written work is hit or miss for all.

Although weekly spelling tests are an educational institution, around when I was a kid and apparently still a common approach to teaching spelling, it's a one-size fits all approach when the kiddos in your classroom come in all different sizes, each with unique learning needs.

Read this post to find out some of the advantages of word study over traditional weekly spelling. Find free jelly bean sorts here!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Fun and Easy Way to Remember the Make Ten Facts

We've all been there before! Your students are looking at you with adorable but completely blank faces. You know you thoroughly taught this skill just last month or you totally trust that last year's teacher covered this same material.

What is a teacher to do?

Give & Take Make Ten is a math game crafted to engage your kindergarten, first, and second grade students in learning, reviewing, and retaining the Make 10 addition facts.

One of my biggest frustrations was teaching the Make Ten addition facts, the number combinations that equal ten. My students would develop conceptual understanding and develop automaticity with these equations after participating in numerous activities. I would even take the time to integrate learning this strategy with previously taught addition fact strategies. And we would move on to learning the next strategy.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

How to Get Started With Teaching CVC Words

How do you know when your students are ready to read and spell CVC (consonant vowel consonant short vowel pattern) words? When you're following a set curriculum, it's often full speed ahead, ready or not!

Ask yourself the following questions:

Can your students demonstrate consistent knowledge of a set of seven to ten letters and their corresponding sounds by:
  • Looking at an individual letter and producing the corresponding consonant or short vowel sound? It's okay to rely on a key word!
  • Hearing an individual consonant or short vowel sound and saying or writing the corresponding letter? 

Can they segment the individual sounds in a three-phoneme word?

Can they blend three phonemes to say a word?

If you answered each question affirmatively, then... Ready! Set! Go!

Check out this blog post for an idea for teaching CVC words!
Digital Paper by RalphAndArthur; Clipart by Educlips 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Things We Love Giveaway

It might be that time of year again when you know you're going to lose it if you hear one more time, "But, I don't have a blue crayon." or "My glue stick just broke." or "I can't find my pencil." Perhaps your parents have quit sending in new supplies and you eagerly spent your meager allocation for instructional supplies a long time ago or you just love the excitement and smell of new.

Things We Love Giveaway

Whatever your situation, you're going to love this giveaway! It won't help with the crayons or the glue sticks but it does include plenty of pencils, along with the other supplies pictured above and listed below. It even includes some that are just for you!


Prize: Things We LOVE prize pack including Mr. Sketch Markers, Flair Markers, Personal Laminator, Dry Erase Pockets, Dry Erase Markers, Astrobrights Paper, Ticonderoga Pencils, and a $50 Teachers pay Teachers gift card.

Giveaway Organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher) 

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter. Giveaway ends 2/21/17 and is open worldwide.

Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media?  Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 6, 2017

One Lovely Way to Teach Place Value for Understanding

I don't know about you but I absolutely believe that "it is impossible to spend too much time on place value" (Kuhns, Lasater, 2013, p. 63).

One of my favorite activities for developing this critical concept is a treasure report. By having a collection of counters and an assortment of organizers, this is an activity which can be repeated as many times as needed throughout the year.

Find out about a free and fabulous place value activity for first and second grade math in this post!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Read to Inspire Kindness and Inclusion

As usual, I feel like I'm a day late and a dollar short. When I was teaching full-time, I felt as if I would never catch up with everything on my must-do list. My mantra became "I'll be finished in June". Well, in retirement the only deadlines are self-imposed and June never comes!

I had intended to write this post last weekend to join with others on Teachers Pay Teachers in promoting a #kindness nation with a collection of free teaching resources. Instead of feeling as if I'm late, I've decided to focus on the timeless quality of kindness. A little bit of internet searching revealed:
  • February 17th is National Random Acts of Kindness Day
  • February 12th - 18th is Random Acts of Kindness Week
  • November 13th is World Kindness Day
  • November 24th is Random Acts of Kindness Friday

Sunday, January 15, 2017

How to Get Started With Segmenting Phonemes

I must be a cookbook collector! I just counted over 30 cookbooks lined up on a shelf in my pantry. That doesn't include my two file boxes stuffed with recipe booklets (at least a dozen with chocolate in the title) picked up in the checkout line at the grocery store or the cookbooks delegated to a bottom cabinet. I typically use only a handful of favorite recipes from each book. I still have my first, "Betty Crocker's Cookbook", purchased 40 years ago. I continue to rely on the pie crust, strawberry shortcake, and bean soup recipes from this cookbook!

Like cookbooks, I collected many program manuals during my teaching career. Like cookbooks, I tended to try everything in the manual and then over time narrowed my focus to one or two components of the program.

Read this post to discover fabulous ways for teaching the foundational skill of phoneme segmentation with young or struggling learners.
Photo by Fresh Snaps

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Wonderful Wintery Ways to Review Letters and Sounds

The weather in my part of Virginia is forecast to be sunny and in the mid-50's today. The possibility of snow is in the forecast for two of the next three days! This is a typical Virginia winter with a wide variety of weather to please everyone; highs ranging from 15 to 65 degrees, sunny, windy, rainy, a coating of ice, a dusting of snow, oh wait a minute, make that two feet of snow!

As you return to your classroom in this new calendar year for a new semester of teaching and learning, your students will exhibit an equally wide variety of achievement levels and readiness to take on new tasks. Some of your littles will undoubtedly still need a daily review of letters and sounds.

Check out this post for free printable winter hat letter and number cards, perfect for preschool and kindergarten, along with links to other resources.