Sunday, April 19, 2015

Celery Roses ~ A Simple but Elegant Project for Mother's Day (or any special occasion)

Mother's Day and Grandparent's Day are quickly approaching.  In school, I was always the kid who struggled to make an art project look the way I wanted it to.  ~As a teacher, I continue to struggle with displays and lovely little touches. 

So, I was very excited when I saw a celery rose on Pinterst.  My inspiration came from Laureen Cracknell.  She had a lovely, intricate project including some roses printed from celery.  (Click here to see her blog post.)  I wanted to simplify this idea for busy teachers, so I am providing a template for a vase and flower stems.  
This project required one stalk of celery.  Just cut the celery into short pieces and use a rubber band to hold them together. 

Print the page with the vase and stem.  Kids can color the stems and decorate the vase as they'd like.  Then, they can stamp away to create a bouquet of roses for their mother or any important person in their life. 

For the inside of the card, I'm including a couple templates that kids can use to write a special note. 

To download the pages shown, click here or on any of the pictures. 

** Bonus: Now I'm motivated to eat the rest of the celery . . . 

Thanks so much for stopping by!   :) Anne Gardner 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Free Math Activities for Interactive Whiteboards ~ Awesome!

I just found an amazing site featuring math activities for Interactive Whiteboards.  What I really love is . . . It's all set up by grade level and includes demonstrations of all my favorite hands-on math tools. 

Here are a few activities that caught my eye. . . 

Interactive ten frame activities ~ Ready to play!

Students count groups of tens and ones ~ Handy!

Help kids visualize whether equations are true or false. 
These activities are great for whole group lessons and math talks.  They are also fabulous for use as math centers.  They are narrated, so kids experience success using them independently.  There's so much to explore!  

If you get a chance to check this site out, I'd love to hear what you think.  Thanks so much for stopping by!

:) Anne 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Beaded Number Rods

Yesterday, I went to the dollar store and spent $2 on a pack of beads and some stems.  (I'm giving away my age, but we used to call these pipe cleaners when I was in school. This set is shorter than the ones I remember from long ago.) 

This morning, I had time to just play with these. Here are some of the ideas I came up with:

Simply creating number sticks was fun.  What a great way for kids to learn to compare numbers. After building a staircase with number rods, I'd also have them build a staircase with unifix and talk about how the two sets are similar. 

Once kids have had time to explore the materials, it's time to add in symbols.  I made this set of number toppers and taped them onto the beaded rods.   

I'm thinking of having kids sequence these. They would also work well for a number of games.  Here are some that came to my mind right away:

1) Remove the beads.  Have kids put the beads back onto the number rods. (When you want the beads to stay on easily, just fold the bottom of the stem over.) 

2) Partners work together to put the number rods in order.  One partner closes his/her eyes while the other removes a number rod.  The partner has to see how quickly he/she can figure out which rod is missing. (A slight variation - Instead of taking a rod away, the first child switches the order of two rods. The second child has to quickly put them back in order.)

3) Take one rod at a time. Flip it, so there is just a blank white card as the child sees the back of the number topper. He/she says, as quickly as possible, how many beads are on the rod. Flip the card back over for a self-checking activity. 

I love any material that helps kids really visualize and understand addition and subtraction.  So - I got out some flashcards and started playing with these beaded number rods.  

For addition, I answered the problem mentally and then took the number stick that matched my answer.  I really liked "proving it" using the number stick - and I'm thinking kids will too. 

These worked really well for subtraction.  I just took the stick showing the total and subtracted by sliding the beads down the rod.  I found this quick, easy and visually appealing.

I find that many kids really struggle with the concept of numbers in the teens.  So - I started playing with these to see how they'd work with numbers through 20. 

First, I just added another stem and created rods for numbers in the teens.  It didn't seem like that would help kids visual these numbers.  

Then, I tried folding between the group of ten and the additional ones.  I started to feel like this would be a way kids could visual numbers in the teens.

Just for fun, I made some larger toppers.  This struck me as a visual that would really help kids understand numbers in the teens! 

Some ideas for working with these would be:

1) Have kids sequence numbers 10 - 19. 
2) Teach kids to verbalize, "I see 18.  18 is one ten and eight more ones. 

Rekenreks are all the rage!  I messed around a bit with making a rekenrek that kids could build for themselves.  Here's what I came up with:
Just attaching two number rods to q-tips was a quick and simple way to create a rekenrek.  I really like that the beads stay in place when I pick them up. (With many of the commercial rekenreks, the beads slide as soon as the rekenrek is tilted.) The q-tips worked well because the stems did not easily slide over the ends and they are something I usually have on hand. But, I didn't really like the look. So, I went digging through my kids' old toys. 

I found a bin of building toys - and there were plenty of stems that gave these a nice sturdy feel. 

If you'd like to print out the number toppers I used, you can download them by clicking here

I have the flashcards pictured here available for free at my Teachers pay Teachers shop.  Click here for addition cards and here for subtraction cards. 

It's been fun playing with beads and stems today. I hope that someone else will find some inspiration in these ideas. If so, I'd love to hear about it!

Thanks for stopping by,  :) Anne

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Real News ~ Really Interesting and Straight from the Smithsonian!

Last summer, I got to go on a fabulous trip to Washington, D.C. with my husband and two sons. Spending time in the Smithsonian was one of the highlights of our vacation.  It made me very aware of what a national treasure the Smithsonian really is!

I recently found out about TTribune, a free service that the Smithsonian is offering to all K - 12 teachers and students.    

This site provides a wealth of informational text.  Each day, TTribune searches a variety of reliable news sources for grade-appropriate stories. Lexile levels are offered for many of the articles.  

The picture below shows a sketch of an underground playground that a group has proposed to build in Manhattan. The essential question of this article is: Would you want to play in an underground park?  What a great discussion starter this article would be!

My kids would just love this one . . . Passengers were recently asked to help push an airplane because the tires were frozen to the ground.  Fascinating!

Who wouldn't want to ride on a cushion of air?  I can't wait to share this breaking story about advances in hoverboarding!

There is truly something for everyone here.  

Click here or on any of the pictures to check out this free service.  It's well worth exploring!

Thanks for stopping by!  :) Anne Gardner (NBCT, Literacy) 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Adding a little "extra magic" to Christmas read alouds

What an exciting time of year!  One of my favorite parts about the season is sharing favorite holiday books with kids.  

Here's a simple idea that makes it even more fun . . . 

Collect your favorite holiday books and wrap them up.  I like to use recycled wrapping paper or place them in reusable gift bags. 

When it's time for a read aloud, let a child pick a "present" to open.

To add a little more fun, have the books magically appear and act surprised when you and the kids find them.  

If I especially want to read a certain book, I will have it "appear" on the easel - fully wrapped and ready to open and read. 

I hope your kids enjoy this simple idea if you decide to give it a try.  Happy Holidays!

:) Anne

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Comparing Numbers in Kindergarten

Thanks for stopping by!  I'd like to welcome my very first guest blogger, Susan, from Teaching Doodles.

Marhaba ~ Welcome from the United Arab Emirates!  I’m Susan from Teaching Doodles.

I am super excited to share with you an interactive math activity I used recently with my kindergarten students.  Although we do not use the Common Core over here, this activity still connects to Counting and Cardinality for kindergarten – comparing numbers K.CC.C.6.  I found this idea on Pinterest and modified it for a whole class lesson.  See the original pin here.
Provide each of your kiddos with a sorting mat.  The ones we used were simply  a 3 x 2 table.  Feel free to use a larger or smaller table based on your class needs.   You can see a sample of the mats we used in  the pictures below.  
Next, each student gets 8 counters (4 of one color and 4 of another).  We used 4 blue and 4 yellow but use whatever color you like.  I put the same number and color of counters into a small drawstring bag.
If you're lucky enough to have an interactive whiteboard, create the same table on your board.  
Now we’re ready to play!
1.Draw a counter from the bag.  Students place the same color on their mat.
2.Draw another counter.  Students will place on their mat.  Repeat drawing counters until the mat is full.
3. Students rearrange their counters so one color is on top and one is on the bottom.  (I found this difficult for my class  to do.  The second time we sorted the colors as we played).
4. Hold a class discussion to find out greater than, less than, and equal to by counting or matching the counters.  

I hope your class enjoys this quick and easy activity!  
Stop by my blog, Teaching Doodles,  and let me know if you try it.   
I'd love to hear your feedback!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! Free Complete the Equation Task Cards

Happy Thanksgiving!  I am thinking of all the things I have to be grateful for this year and am truly overwhelmed.  

Among the many blessings, my 20 year old son has developed an interest in creating iPad apps for some of the educational materials I create.  It's really special for me to be able to work side by side with him - and then to see materials I create come to life on an iPad. 

As a show of my appreciation for those of you who stop by this little blog, I am making my Complete the Equation Task card set (regularly $4) free from Nov. 26  - Nov. 30, 2014.  

This packet is designed to help students build fluency with addition and subtraction facts while also mastering Common Core Standard 1.OA.D.8: Determine the unknown number in addition or subtraction sentences relating three whole numbers. 

I find that students need scaffolded experiences to develop this skill.  This pack includes 144 equation cards than can be used for partner work and/or Scoot games.  The cards are presented in order of increasing complexity.  The following levels are included in this game: 

Addition within 10
Subtraction within 10
Mixed Addition/Subtraction within 10
Addition within 20
Subtraction within 20
Mixed Addition/Subtraction within 20 

A few screen shots of this item follow.  I like all the support I can get keeping materials organized, so each level and the corresponding answer sheet have a matching black and white (ink saving) background.  Click here or on any of the following set of images to download this item for free at my Teachers pay Teachers shop. 


My son, Keith, has the first level of his Complete the Equation app as a forever free item on the iTunes store. We found this to be an interesting app to design. After considering several options for having kids input numbers, we decided to provide input (answer) boxes along each side of the screen.  

The stars below the equation display the number of correct and incorrect responses on each level.  If you decide to download this app, we'd love to hear your thoughts on these design features. 
Click here or on one of the screen shots below to access the free version on iTunes. (The first level is free. The full version, including 6 levels, is available for $1.99.) 

Thanks so much for stopping by.  I wish you the happiest of holidays!

:) Anne Gardner